How Greenways Can Help Our Veterans

We can all agree that our military veterans go through a great deal of turmoil while in the service. This is true whether they see combat or not. Often when our service men and women come back, we can tell that they have changed in some way, whether it is physically or not. Many of us find ourselves asking them and each other if there is anything we can do to help. Sometimes there is nothing we can do, but other times our veterans do not know how to express what would be helpful for their reintegration into civilian life. This is especially true if they suffer from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is an issue that plagues our military and no cure is known. While medication may help in some cases, often symptoms are still experienced and it is painful both for the person suffering and for those who love them.

Greenways have been shown to help those with mental health issues, no matter how severe the problem is. Getting some sunshine and fresh air does help, and sometimes just the act of getting up and going somewhere may be able to help those who suffer from this disorder. Although there will be some days where they may not be able to get up and shower let alone get outside to walk around, having the option of a place to go that is quiet and outside is always a good one. Sometimes they help people to think. Other times, it helps those with PTSD to be outside around people they may not know, whether it is to show them that they will not be attacked or if it is to show them that whatever situation they had been in is no longer the everyday truth.

If someone you know and love is a veteran, especially one suffering from PTSD, see if they will visit your local greenway. Here in Gaston County, we want to support those who are willing to protect us and want to give back any way that we can. If our developed greenways can be of any help, we will be thrilled. Have them stop by and see just how much better they will feel after some time spent around nature.

Unplug and Return to Nature

While I am not one to condemn technology, I do think that many of us need to have a talk. Technology has been an incredible invention for the human race. After all, you wouldn’t be able to read this if it weren’t for people like Alan Turing who began creating “Turing Machines” which we now call computers. You wouldn’t be able to read this if it weren’t for Bill Gates who created Microsoft or Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie who created Microsoft Word. The fact that we have more computing power in our pockets than the first rocket that went to the moon did is simply mind boggling. Even with all of this incredible information and all of these incredible people who have gotten us to this point, there is something we seem to be missing. It’s missing because we have lost it along the way.

Nature is something that we have always had access to. It has been here long before technology and will be here long after technology changes and fades away. Unfortunately, so many of us have become so wrapped up in our lives, of which technology is a major part, that it seems almost impossible to put it down and appreciate what we have without it. Getting outside can be, and often is, just as exciting as doing something on the computer or on your cell phone. While it doesn’t have all of the information that these devices do, you get to experience the information that is there in a completely different way. Something certainly has to be said about that.

Now, there are ways to experience both at the same time. E-books are wonderful if you want to have a pocket guide to animals or plants in your area without carrying around an entire book bag. There are wonderful apps that help you to navigate the night sky and explain the origin and story behind each constellation you have ever wondered about. These are the uses I adore. Sometimes technology brings us closer to nature in ways that we couldn’t have expected twenty or even ten years ago. However, as with anything, a balance is important. Perhaps spending a day away from the screens that we spend so much time looking at is a good idea. Let me tell you, there are fewer places that are prettier to look at than Gaston County.

Greenway Kids Projects

Kids are the future of our world. This is something that we cannot dispute no matter how much someone may want to. One day we will all be gone and the future generations will be in charge of the Earth. This means that we want to do as much as we can for them while they are still here. For many of us, this is one of the big reasons to support things like greenways. Just creating them isn’t enough though. We need to teach our children why these places are important. Here are a couple of ideas for parents and teachers to get our kids involved in our environmental installations.

Field trips are always a highlight of the school year, no matter how old you are. This is especially true of younger kids, though. I remember being in elementary school and going to an apple farm and a cranberry bog and loving every moment of both. Any time we got to go on a field trip and spend time outside was a huge win for all of us. If you are able to organize a field trip to a greenway, it’s sure to stick in their minds and be a hit. You can find hundreds of activities to do with kids of all ages outside, but some of my favorites were ones where we would learn about animals. There was a particularly fun one where different colored toothpicks taught us about camouflage in nature.

Art is always a great way to engage kids in learning. Something I have always done with my younger family members is after going somewhere special, we draw what we saw there together. Even as a teacher, you can have an assignment where your students spend a certain amount of time out on one of the paths (with an adult of course) and then in school have them draw what they saw and compare it to the other students after. This may also offer you some time to catch up on your lesson planning!

Nature is a playground for everyone, especially for those who are still younger. Getting kids exposed to the beauty and wonder of the outdoors is something those of us here in Gaston County always support. After all, they are the ones who will inherit the Earth. We want to make sure they know how precious it is.

The Safety of Greenways - Gastonia

Greenways are mostly thought of as areas that can be used for exercise and observation. One thing that many people worry about when it comes to using their local greenways is how safe they are. This is especially true if the area is well known for a high crime rate or is heavily drug trafficked. While there is no way to ensure that any area is one hundred percent crime free, thankfully it has come to our attention that there are multiple reasons why your local greenways may well be safer than any other area of your town.

First of all, if your greenway is used often, the risk of crime being a problem automatically drops. This is simply because the more people using the area for its intended purpose there are, the less likely it becomes that people will use it for a nefarious purpose. By having a location that is used on a normal basis, the crime rate will naturally reduce as these people will not want to be happened upon. If the users of the greenway are highly visible, then it stands to reason that anyone who wants to partake in illegal activity will not frequent that area.

Many times, a greenway will connect different areas of the town. This may be schools, shopping centers, or other public buildings. If the paths run between these areas, they may very likely become part of a police beat. Depending upon the numbers of your local fleet, there may even be a bicycle cop that rides up and down the trails for the sole purpose of keeping this area safe. If you are concerned about illegal activity occurring in the greenway, you can always ask your local force if they are able to send out an officer to keep an eye on things.

Here in Gastonia, Gaston County, we want to make sure that our greenways are safe for everyone to use. We want everyone to feel secure enough to walk around and enjoy nature without fear or worry. It has been shown that many greenways around the nation have low crime rates and some have almost none reported at all! With a large volume of people who live in the local communities, our greenways are safe and just as lovely as you would think. Come and see what we mean, we know you won’t be disappointed!

Greenways and Water

When I hear the word greenway, I immediately think of two different things. One is the mountain trail which I grew up near, running up and down and all through the town. The other thing is the park that was almost directly behind my parent’s house as I grew up. I spent so much time in both locations that I can hardly remember a warm month that I couldn’t be found at one or the other. The one thing I remember the most about both of these areas was the water they had and how much I loved spending time near it.

Obviously, anything around the river will have, well, water. The wonderful thing about this was that the river was not the only water that could be found. In fact, most of the water that I spent my time around was not the river, but a small pond along the trail. My sister’s former boyfriend and I used to take hours and walk around the pond and fish or just enjoy the coolness after a long hike. Although he has since passed on, every time I head up that way I like to go over to that pond. Thankfully, it’s better known now and I see families enjoying it as I once did.

The park I grew up near also had a river. While fishing was not allowed here, it was always a favorite area for kids and dogs to beat some of the summer heat. The park boasted some of the best walking trails in our area and even had a natural spring which developed into a river itself. After a terrible flood, we were all able to watch nature come back to life, which certainly got our science teachers excited. It was a great practical lesson for all of us in school.

If you are near a greenway, see if there is water around. While you may not be able to swim or fish, it can certainly be a wonderful experience for you or any children you know. Even simply observing the difference in ecosystems between land and water can ignite a fascination that may take someone through their entire lives. Nature is wonderful, and here in Gaston County we certainly think the best of it. We hope you do as well.

Children and Greenways

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in America. While I wish I could say that this wasn’t true and that all kids will shoot up and fill out, this isn’t always true. While there are many reasons for this unfortunate situation, one of the main problems that faces our children is a lack of physical activity, both inside and outside of schools. With schools focusing more and more on the vast amounts of information our children need to keep up with the rest of the world, it can become difficult for recess and gym class to cater to their needs, especially as they grow into middle school and above. Here in Gaston County, we want to help our children fight childhood obesity and keep themselves healthy into and through adulthood.

The habits that we learn as children generally stay with us through our adult lives unless we actively work to change them. This means that if you and your child exercise on a regular basis, they likely will continue this activity even after they have gone to college and/or moved out of your house. While it may be difficult and extremely tiring to get your kid up and out of the house to exercise, studies have shown that getting your kids active is beneficial to both of you. This may be through your exercising as well, or by simply tiring them out so you can sleep through the night as they do the same.

Our greenways are a perfect area to get your kids to exercise. One trick many parents use is creating games. This may be a scavenger hunt where their children need to bring items back, trying to find and identify different animals, or even something traditional like tag or hide and seek. Being outside helps kids to strengthen their immune system, get a good amount of oxygen, and helps their vitamin D levels due to sunlight absorption. Getting out and playing with your child is something that we will always encourage, no matter what your reasoning is. We think that it’s a wonderful thing to see people of all ages enjoying our specially designed greenways and hope that the love you instill in them will last their whole life through. Who knows, maybe your child will design and develop greenways when they get older just like us.

Physical Activity Levels in the United States

I don’t know about you, but I consistently hear that physical activity of those in America is much lower than it should be. This is due to a great deal of many different issues. The main reason we hear in defense of a lack of physical activity is time. Many of us have heavy time constraints that may be due to work, family care, or even personal issues which cause physical exercise to fall to the wayside. Often exercise and house work are the two first things which fall to the wayside when there is an issue. Thankfully, the trouble that the lack of attention to these factors can cause may be helped by the use of greenways.

According to a study around 1999, only thirty to forty percent of Americans partake in regular and consistent physical activity. This survey showed that an additional thirty percent of people are not active at all. Inactivity seems to be more prevalent in the elderly, lower income people, those with lower education levels, women, and minorities. This lack of activity is something that is learned in childhood, and the trend of younger people becoming less and less active is a large cause for concern among scientists and doctors alike.

Here in Gaston County, we want all of our residents and visitors to be as healthy as possible. While we understand that time is a large factor in the lack of activity that most of us experience, we also have made leaps and bounds in an attempt to bring exercise potential to you. We have created greenways for you to use and utilize while taking as little time out of your day as possible. Our series of paths and connected areas are meant for you to be able to stretch your legs while still possibly running your daily errands or going to work.

The greenways that you will find in Gaston County are also great places to impart the love of exercise in your children. By making the exercise fun, you can instill a lifelong excitement about walking and other activities that help to keep them healthy. If these habits are learned in adolescence, then you are certainly their teachers. We’re sure that if you try to make it fun for them, you’ll find it to be exciting as well. Check it out and see just how right we are!

Gastonia Greenways and the Housing Market

In April of 2002, a study was done among homeowners and those looking to buy. Around two thousand people were interviewed by homeowners associations and realtor groups. What was found was that when asked about amenities that were important in choosing their new home, people had very specific interests. While it makes sense that the largest concern was access to highways, what surprised many was that the next most important factor wasn’t shops within walking distance or playgrounds or golf courses. No, what was most important to people looking to move was the proximity to their new home of walking, biking, and jogging trails.

Since this 2002 study, it has been widely studied that the closer to a greenway a house is, the higher the property value. While this may seem odd, there are many benefits which allow this to be the case. For example, having a greenway near your home means that you have easy access to a safe exercise area for both you and any children you may have. This is something that is invaluable for many new parents. Making sure that your child can run around and still remain safe from cars and even things like uneven pavement is a definite selling point. Another factor is the view. Even if your property doesn’t abut the greenway, you are within walking distance of a lovely area which doesn’t have the feel of urbanization. This is certainly something that many younger homeowners are looking for. An escape from the daily grind is almost always welcome and many couldn’t be happier to find one right by their door.

Here in Gaston County, we are extremely proud of the progress that we have made in regards to our greenways. Even if it didn’t raise our property values, we would be thrilled that people can see just how much good these places can do for others. The fact that this is reflected in the monetary value that is ascribed to our location is simply icing on the cake. We are so excited that others feel the way we do about the importance of these areas and see that they are valuable installations for any community. If you are lucky enough to live near one of our greenways, take a minute to look around. A lot of people would love to be where you are right now.

Page 1 of 3