Stark County, OH (May 21, 2019) – While many might anecdotally report that walking is a good stress reliever, Stark County will soon have a trail dedicated to offering people the opportunity to practice mindfulness, or the “non-judgmental awareness that comes from paying purposeful attention to the present moment,” as it is clinically described, while walking in nature – promoting the benefits of these activities and providing a new way to embrace a self-care lifestyle. The 1-mile, 10 station walk is made possible through a partnership with Stark Parks and Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (StarkMHAR) and will be located at Petros Lake Park, 3519 Perry Dr. SW in Canton. The public is invited to a grand opening event and guided tour of the walk on June 1 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Rain or shine.)
The grand opening will feature activities that encourage mindfulness, intention-setting, and gratitude for all ages, including children. Stark Parks and StarkMHAR will each present brief remarks on what the Mindfulness Walk means for the community, followed by an official ribbon cutting. Staff will be on hand until 12 p.m. to guide visitors through the walk.
“We have heard from the geniuses of the mind throughout history that a walk in the park will mend body and soul,” said Bob Fonte, Stark Parks director. “Henry David Thoreau once said ‘An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day’ and in the wise words of John Muir, ‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.’ We hear today from those working in the mental health field the reminders about sitting too much, increasing our activity and steps each day, or taking breaks from projects or technology. This initiative gives some stepping stones of how we can take a walk in the park and use daily practices and benefits to focus our awareness in a moment. Please join us on June 1, National Trails Day, to celebrate the opening of the Mindfulness Walk.”
The Mindfulness Walk aims to increase the overall availability of self-care tools for residents of Stark County and beyond. Stations along the trail are placed about every tenth of a mile, and are clearly marked with a 16×20 sign that offers the walker a different way to embrace the moment. One station incorporates a musical instrument; another involves stacking stones; yet another encourages the use of the different senses. Stations were developed by combining existing natural elements with input from clinicians to maximize the benefits of the walk.
“So often in our daily lives we have to multitask – which is actually just forcing our minds to switch back and forth very rapidly between different activities,” said John Aller, executive director of StarkMHAR. “We think we’re really good at this, but our brains can get fatigued and we should always be looking for ways to recharge. I would encourage people to do this walk as often as they’d like as part of an overall self-care lifestyle.”
The grand opening of the walk, and ongoing use of the walk, are free of charge. A Facebook event page for the grand opening event can be found on StarkMHAR’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2187217794924707/
About Stark Parks
Stark Parks is the countywide park and trail system encompassing 15 parks, 4 lakes, 120+ miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, 8,300 acres of natural areas, wildlife rehabilitation, and educational programming. For park and trail maps, a program and event calendar, information on activities, and more, visit StarkParks.com.
About Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery
Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery is a multi-faceted organization of expert professionals, dedicated volunteers and concerned community leaders close to mental health and addiction needs right here at home. StarkMHAR is responsible for planning, funding and monitoring public mental health and addiction prevention, early intervention and treatment services delivered to the residents of Stark County. It is one of approximately 50 boards coordinating the public behavioral health system across Ohio. StarkMHAR also advocates for residents with behavioral health issues at both the local and state levels and provides educational opportunities for local providers and other community stakeholders. For more online about the work of StarkMHAR, visit www.StarkMHAR.org.