By Lauren Schad
I’m a big kid at heart. When I’m not working or finishing homework, I love to be goofy and have fun. And nothing de-stresses me quicker that a trip to a park to play on the playground.
When a big test was coming up, or I was nervous about a competition in high school, I would go to the park in town and swing it out. The slow, rhythmic, back-and-forth movement calmed me down right away. And I absolutely loved going down slides. Visiting the park was an easy way to get some fresh air and exercise, and it gave me a chance to clear my mind. Even in college, I still love playing in the park (and now I have an excuse—my 17-month-old nephew!).
Two special parks have been important in my life.
Every year, my mother’s side of the family has a reunion in Meadville. After a carry-in lunch and some visiting, it doesn’t take long for the kids to sneak out of the community center and cross the street to the city park for some fun. There’s a fitness trail, a circle swing set, a wagon with rocking horses, and a spiral-shaped slide.
Each year, my cousins and I have “feats of strength,” a competition to complete challenges on the fitness trail and other pieces of equipment. Then we usually end the afternoon by taking a photo, in birth order, on the spiral slide.
Another important slide I remember is the rocket slide at Simpson Park in Chillicothe. When visited my grandparents in the summertime or out-of-state family came to town, we would make a special trip to Simpson Park to play.
And apparently I’m not the only “big kid” who loves the rocket slide. The inside of the slide is covered in scribbles of names, love notes, encouraging messages, and an occasional ornery comment.
The rocket slide is 33 feet tall with a spiral staircase that goes all the way to the top. The slide used to be entirely made of metal, but it looks like it’s seen better days. The metal slide was recently replaced by a plastic slide so future generations can safely enjoy the slide.
So, the next time you’re feeling stressed or need to clear your mind, revisit your youth at your local park. Take a turn on the swings or glide down a slide. You’ll be surprised how much your mood will improve!