July 16, 2018

Get Out and Play: How Healthier Generation Staff Stay Active in the Midwest

This post is part of Healthier Generation’s summer blog series highlighting creative ways to keep kids fed, active and engaged all summer long.

Parks are the heart of every community and an integral part of a city’s design. They have the power to bring people together through physical activity, provide learning opportunities in wildlife exploration and bring clarity of mind for emotional well-being.

In honor of the National Recreation and Park Association’s Park and Recreation Month, we asked some our staff — who span the country working toward our mission of giving every child a healthy future — to share their favorite local parks and what activities they enjoy doing there.

Here is part 3 of 4, highlighting parks from the mid-western part of the United States:


McFarland, WI

"Lewis Park is the largest park in the area, with a shelter, playground, outdoor volleyball court, baseball diamond and ample green space. About half the park butts up against wetlands and small lake, so it’s very picturesque. In the winter, they flood the park for ice skating and hockey and the shelter has a fireplace so you can warm yourself while having a snack. Lewis Park remains to be our family favorite."

-Brian Weaver, Chief Program Officer


Chicago, IL

"The 606 is an elevated trail, which connects a handful of neighborhoods and parks with a beautified space for running, walking, rolling and biking! The 606 is buzzing with people of all ages at all hours of the day. I particularly enjoy attending outdoor workouts on the trail hosted by local fitness studios.

Lincoln Park is situated along Lake Michigan and one of my favorite places to play soccer in the summer! The Lincoln Park south Turf Soccer Field overlooks Lake Michigan and one of the city’s most popular beaches, North Avenue Beach. I also enjoy the Diversey Driving Range, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, all located in Lincoln Park."

-Julia Goetten, Healthy Schools Program Manager

Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan is such a beautiful state, and my “newish hometown” as of a year or so ago, Ann Arbor, is filled with parks — more than 150 of them! In fact, access to nature is one of the primary reasons I chose to move here. Two of my favorite parks, Gallup and Argo, are right next to each other, bordering the Huron River and a quick bike ride away from home. Through all seasons, even the Michigan winter, they are great places to run and bike. They provide awesome ways to spend your summer days and nights — it feels like the entire town comes out to paddleboard, kayak and tube down the river. Gallup Park even has “night paddling” a few Friday nights over the summer, when you can kayak under the moonlight. It’s a fabulous way to wrap-up the work week and kick off the weekend!

-Laura O’Connor, Vice President of Marketing & Communications

Des Moines, IA

"In Des Moines my go to park is Gray’s Lake Park. The 167-acre Gray’s Lake Park is located in the heart of the City of Des Moines, Iowa and offers a little something for everyone. With easy access from all over the city through an extensive trail system, I specifically enjoy Gray’s Lake for biking, kayaking, walking my dogs and picnicking with my family. I would highly recommend Gray’s to anyone visiting the area."

-Adam Fanning, National Network Manager


Kansas City Metro Area (MO & KS)

"The Indian Creek and Blue River Trail in Kansas City (MO) is 6 miles of bike trail that takes you through green spaces, forest areas, and connects you to Minor Park at the southern end of the trail. We’ve used the trail for the past 9 years for biking, jogging, walking, and skipping rocks in the creek; great for families! I love taking a cool morning, and sometimes mid-day, bike ride on the trail and enjoying the serenity of riding through the trees and following the creek. I recommend taking the trail to Red Bridge Rd. and heading west up the hill to Crow’s Coffee in the recently updated Red Bridge Shopping Center to enjoy an Iced Latte or Smoothie…nothing better than a bike ride and an Iced Beverage on a summer day! Interested in a longer ride for the day? The Indian Creek Trail is part of a 26-mile trail system that connects Jackson County in Missouri to Johnson County in Kansas so head West on the Indian Creek Trail at State Line Rd. into Kansas and make a day of exploring the beautiful parks and trails in the KC Metro Area!

I consider Carl Migliazzo Park to be a hidden gem in the South Kansas City Area (MO). Tucked inside a neighborhood off Minor Dr. and Pennsylvania Ave., Migliazzo Park is a wonderful park for kids and adults alike, boasting a bike/running trail, playground area for kids, a pond for fishing, and small fitness stations along the trail. Migliazzo is great for the summer as there are a lot of trees providing shade and open green spaces for tossing a frisbee, dogs to run around, and a variety of other activities.

When I first moved to Kansas City, I spent a lot of time at Shawnee Mission Park (KS) hiking the trails, running on the paths, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. This is the largest park in the county and the most visited park in the state of Kansas; providing a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities to fit your taste. Shawnee Mission Park features a 120-acre lake with swimming beach and marina, 10 shelters, numerous picnic areas, nature trails, play areas, an archery range, a 53-acre dog off-leash area, a disc golf course, mountain biking and hiking trails, equestrian trails, and is home to The Theatre in the Park."

-Jason Geering, HOST Manager


If these are in your area, we hope you’ll visit and try a new activity! And if not, we hope you’re inspired to get out there, explore and play in your local parks. Tweet us @HealthierGen to share your favorite neighborhood park and #HealthySummer activities!