United Insurance contributes $2,500 to Riverside Park Playground

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine - United Insurance recently joined the growing list of businesses and individuals who have contributed to the Riverside Playground Project.

To date, the project has raised $275,000 in cash and pledges towards the $332,000 goal.

Numerous studies have been done by groups such as the American Trails organization, Rural Recreation Association, and the National Recreation and Park Association that indicate facilities such as this have a positive effect on nearby neighborhood property values; decrease health costs and support productivity; improve physical and psychological health and strengthen communities; make communities more attractive places to live and work; attract and retain knowledge workers and talent to live and work, attract and retain affluent retirees, and attract home-buyers; are treasured resources available to everyone regardless of age, race and income; and improve the health and wellness of the community by promoting physical activity thus combating poor nutrition and obesity. Leisure activities, parks and green spaces are essential to physical, intellectual, social and spiritual well-being, quality of life, to the environment and economic sustainability. Outdoor recreation is no longer just nice to have, it is now a must have.

Out-migration of our youth is an increasing and serious issue for our community. One amenity that is sought after by young families looking to relocate here is an up-to-date playground and recreational activities for young children. Good schools are not enough. Young families are looking for safe, family-friendly communities with lots of playgrounds. With children in decline in urban areas, areas must become more attractive to those with young children. To retain and attract this population segment, studies show communities must build more playgrounds.

Quality recreation and physical activity opportunities are vital to the health and personal development of children for reducing stress, increasing self-esteem, and helping children do better at school. Children in low-income families are much less likely than children living in high-income families to participate in organized sports (25 per cent compared to 75 per cent) and quality recreation programs. These barriers include: user fees and equipment costs; lack of transportation, family support and awareness of opportunities; isolation; inadequate or no facilities in their communities and lack of safe places to play. Having a free recreational facility in close proximity to their homes greatly reduces barriers and improves the health and personal development for low-income children. The location of this

playground is immediately adjacent to two low-income neighborhoods in a safe and highly visible green space park.

The playground will have more than 30 features for children ages 2 through 12 including adaptive equipment. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held in the spring with a ribbon cutting upon completion.

Tax deductible checks can be made payable to Presque Isle Community Development Association and mailed to the attention of Playground Project, 12 Second Street, Presque Isle, Me 04769. For more information on this project, contact Presque Isle Recreation and Parks at (207) 764-2545.