As a retired physician who specialized in child and adolescent psychiatry, a current member of the board of Hamilton County Parks and Recreation and a concerned member of our Hamilton County community, I want to share my thoughts about the positive opportunity that the coronavirus pandemic has afforded us. Our public playgrounds are closed to eliminate the spread of the virus from our equipment and close contact among its users. This allows us to make good use of our natural surroundings in ways that we used to do before public playgrounds were readily available. There is clear evidence that nature promotes good mental health. Playing in the outdoors is a joy. It is up to all of us now to remind ourselves that nature’s balance beam is a fallen tree trunk. A low branch is a perfect trapeze. Creek stomping is a gift. Hiking is perfect for both a healthy body and mind. Hide and seek among trees can be a family event. Crunching fallen leaves produces giggles. A blade of grass between thumbs makes the best whistle.
There are so many ways that we can make playgrounds out of our natural surroundings. My hope is that after the coronavirus pandemic is under control, the children, parents and grandparents will remember how much fun being in nature is and will continue to use our parks for good health and enjoyment. Play benefits all ages!
Judith Campbell, MD, Carmel