Welcome back to this week’s why parks matter to Columbia Valley resident’s post. This is the final memory we are sharing from Jessica Bee. This story took place in 2005 when Jessica had a six-year-old, 4-year-old, 2 ½-year-old, and two children under one.
Jessica explained that she was so grateful to have a local park only 1/8th of a mile away from her home when she had all of her young children. She was able to secure two babies to her front and back, place two in the stroller, and have the other one walk alongside. By the time she made it to the park with all of the kids, she felt like a champion – rightfully so! Having a park within close walking distance was essential for Jessica since her family only had one car. Her husband worked at the refinery and often worked 10 hours a day, including an hour commute each day. Her husband needed the car to commute two and from work, and Jessica needed an easy way to get her five kids outside to let their energy out. There was a small playground and green space at the complex where they lived. Still, Jessica explained that they needed a park where the kids could explore and play without the possibility of disrupting neighbors.
Jessica often took her children to the parks, pretty much every day they could. This frequent park activity allowed Jessica to become acquainted with the neighbors near the park. One day, Jessica and her kids walked to a park and saw a man with his son gathering apples and pears from the trees near their apartment. The two were familiar with each other since they both had kids and frequently this local park. The man explained that they were collecting fruit to make homemade cider; they had just got a cider press and invited Jessica and her kids to join them. All of the children gathered fruit and got to experience making homemade cider for the first time. At the end of the day, Jessica and the kids went home with a beautiful memory and a gallon of fresh cider.
Once the kids were at school age, they could walk to and from school with their friends, which was only ¼ of a mile away from home. The kids had gained experience and knowledge of the neighborhood through their many trips to local parks. Jessica explained that being able to walk to school significantly increased her children’s confidence in their capabilities. Jessica knows that having parks within walking distance of her home benefitted her children’s physical, emotional, and experiential development.