The state of America’s health is often discussed, and in gloomy terms — we’re too heavy, too fond of unhealthy food, too likely to avoid exercise.
The Frankfort Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Department would like to change that talk.
“No matter what shape you’re in, you can find something to do,” said tennis director John Arnett, “and you meet nice people.”
The department is probably best known among local residents for its youth baseball and softball leagues and adult softball leagues.
But there are other activities available that aren’t on most people’s radar.
“A lot of the programs we offer people aren’t aware we offer,” said Mike Hockensmith, department supervisor/athletics. “There are a lot of opportunities for people, and they don’t know they’re around.”
So the Parks Department is trying to get the word out. It’s building its Facebook presence and has updated its website, which includes links to associations that help with various programs. It’s also offering online registration for youth baseball and softball.
The Parks Department encompasses nine parks that feature 10 miles of walking trails and 11 miles of bike paths.
Among the associations that work with the Parks Department are the Bluegrass Chapter of the Kentucky Mountain Bike Association, the Frankfort Archery Association and the Frankfort Tennis Association.
The youth baseball and softball leagues have about 700 players during the summer, and the adult softball leagues have over 200 players.
The Parks Department is hoping to get more people involved in different activities such as disc golf and croquet, which are both offered at East Frankfort Park.
It’s also offering a new sport — pickleball — which will be played at Juniper Hill.
Pickleball is played on a downsized tennis court with a lowered net using a paddle and a ball that is similar to a wiffle ball.
Among new activities planned are Kite Day at the Cove Spring archery range April 26 (some kites will be provided) and a community campout in September at Leslie Morris Park on Fort Hill.
Nature programs have been offered at Cove Spring and Leslie Morris and will be again this year.
“Part of that is also to get people to see different parks,” Hockensmith said about the nature programs. “A lot of people don’t realize how many parks we have and the opportunities there are, and then they get in the nature programs and see Leslie Morris and that is has walking trails and things like that.”
And that’s just what the people in the Parks Department want the public to discover.
“You meet the nicest people in the parks,” Arnett said, “and pretty soon you have a walking buddy and you become part of a community.”