Monocacy Hill, where any day is a perfect day to visit

After reading the description of Monocacy Hill Recreation Area in the Penn State study, I was both excited to visit and surprised I had never been there before. I enlisted the help of a friend and her kindergartener to explore this huge place. Before we left, I made up a small scavenger hunt to take to the park, something I have done with my kids before. It’s nothing fancy, just a few simple things for the kids to find on a hike, and now they can find them and take photos with the digital camera, which makes it even more fun.

Our list (geared toward a newly reading kindergartener) included:

Something living
Something dead
Something green
Something orange
Water
Wood
An animal
An insect

We stopped for a few minutes to check out the information board that sits at the entrance to the park and to read a little about the park and the types of plants that live there. I definitely learned something at Monocacy Hill, because I had no idea that there were invasive plants threatening our forests. The Conservation Association has, as one of its missions and part of its Forest Stewardship Plan, an initiative to combat invasive non-native plants. From its website:

BASICS: Plants, insects, animals taken out of their natural habitat may not have the natural predators and diseases that previously kept their population under control. So they are able to aggressively compete with native species for space, light, water and nutrients and spread through the forest displacing our native species. In our area, for example, deer will browse on native plants and rarely eat non-native food sources.

This recreation area is like “park meets museum,” because there are informational stops all along the path and many of the trees and shrubs are marked with the species, origin, and more. It certainly makes for more than just a walk in the park when you visit Monocacy Hill.

We set out on our way after a quick stop at the restroom (an outhouse-not fancy, but definitely a convenience especially if you’re taking a long hike.) We saw a sign marked “creek trail” and decided unanimously that we wanted to see the creek, so we started on the path. Our young explorer started immediately on his list and was very selective in what he chose for each of his scavenger hunt items. He didn’t take a photo of the first thing he found for each category; he wanted to be sure about his choice.

The path wound its way downhill and the scenery was breathtaking. I already love fall and all the colors it offers, but there was something special about this particular place and the sheer height of the trees. There was a light wind that would make the canopy sway and leaves of all shapes and colors made their way down to us.

The scavenger hunt was on – a log with moss was selected as something green, living and wood! Next up was a pile of leaves that were obviously dead. A striking orange, red and yellow leaf fit the bill for something orange, and the hunt (and hike) continued. By then point, I was already planning my next trip to Monocacy Hill and wondering how soon I could get back here with my kids and husband.

The path, which to this point had been a mixture of mud, leaves, gravel and some medium-sized rocks (which our scavenger hunter astutely told us meant we were nearing the creek) now turned into carved stumps. We were all thrilled as we forged ahead in pursuit of the creek and the rest of the scavenger hunt. As we passed another hiker with her dog, the path changed again, to boardwalks, and soon we found the creek, followed by shouts of “water!” and a request for the camera to check one more item off the list.

After passing the creek, we walked a bit further and then realized we had made a rookie mistake. In our enthusiasm to see the creek, we hadn’t looked at the map of the park trails! We had to decide whether to keep going and see if our path would circle around (which it didn’t seem to be doing) or to double back and retrace our steps. If we had unlimited time, I think we would have kept going, even not knowing what was ahead, but afternoon kindergarten awaited our scavenger hunter so we turned around.

Amazingly, the two hardest items on the scavenger hunt to find were the animal and the insect. My friend bravely turned over a log to uncover a characteristically gross specimen of insect, and we finally found a chipmunk to satisfy the animal requirement of our list. We followed the creek trail back up the hill and toward the entrance where we (finally) read the map. If we had gone just a bit further, our trail would have merged with another one and wound its way back to the main entrance, but there’s always next time.

Just for fun, we checked the mileage of the creek trail, which is 1 mile, and figured we walked about ¾ mile each direction-which took nearly an hour with several stops for scavenging, photo taking and just general staring at the beautiful setting. The Monocacy Hill Conservation Association has several events coming up in November so there is plenty of autumn left for exploring this beautiful site:

Walks in the woods: Sundays, November 7th and 21st at 1:30 PM
Moonlight Hike: Sunday, November 21st at 8:30 PM

Of course, you absolutely do not have to wait until a scheduled event to visit the Monocacy Hill Recreation Area. Thanks to the well-marked trails and the information spots scattered throughout the park, any day is a great time to have an adventure here.

MONOCACY HILL RECREATION AREA
Location: Geiger Road, between Hill Road and Limekiln Road in Amity Township
Size: 420 acres
Suitability: Anyone can enjoy connecting with nature at this beautiful park. Some of the trails are more challenging and would be tough for people with limited mobility. Check the map before heading out on the trails. Know your own physical limitations when you start the hike.
Facilities: Miles of trails, picnic tables, grills, study spots with information about the foliage and the area
Activities and tips: Check out the trail map before you go so you can choose how long you want to hike. There are short trails of a mile or less; for the more adventurous, hike the entire perimeter! Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle, especially if you are taking one of the more challenging trails-these paths are natural and include stumps and boardwalks as well as stones and gravel. If you pack a lunch or snack, there are picnic tables near the Geiger Road entrance to the park.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Contact:
Monocacy Hill Conservation Association
P.O. Box 3
Douglassville,  PA  19518
www.monocacyhill.org

Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518
610-689-6000
Website: http://www.amitytownshippa.com/

Recreational Facilities webpage

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

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Lake Drive Park & Recreation Area: A well-loved neighborhood park

Amity Township, just west of Pottstown along the 422 corridor, fits in well with the rest of the areas we have visited in this study. It was founded all the way back in 1719, giving it the title of “First in Berks,” and it has seen a tremendous amount of growth in recent years. Ask anyone who has lived there longer than 10 years and they will paint a very different picture of the township in the last millennium. These days, the new businesses, new developments and new schools sit right next to centuries’ old farms as well as houses from the middle of the 20th century.

The Lake Drive Recreation Area is in an established, residential neighborhood, just a few blocks off of 422 where new construction and new retail spaces have cropped up. You can get to the park by making a right off 422 West onto Park Lane. There is a small strip shopping center at that corner.  At Lake Drive, you make a right and follow the road to the park.

On both sides of Lake Drive are baseball fields, but the recreation area is on the right and there is plenty of parking. The park includes a skatepark, which was completely empty when we visited over the summer. We stopped in again over the weekend and found it full of kids on skateboards – some doing tricks and others just hanging out. The skatepark has been the topic of much discussion in the township since its opening in September of 2006. Some residents felt that it brought an unseemly element to the park, while others cited concerns over crime. But the skatepark remains open and was full of activity on the day we visited.

Although neither of my kids wanted to try out the skatepark on a skateboard, we did bring a scooter and a helmet, which they grudgingly wore once they realized the only way I was going to allow them to try out any of the cool ramps was if they wore a helmet. The amount of kids could be intimidating to someone who can’t skate very well, but they were nice enough to my kids and we felt comfortable using the park facilities.

Lake Drive Park is also home to two tennis courts, a nice picnic pavilion that is set back a bit from the rest of the park, and a modern playground, which has enough excitement for preschoolers and older kids as well. This, to me, appears to be a well-loved, well-used neighborhood park, with plenty of activities for the whole family. Its location, basically behind the Redner’s Market in Douglassville, makes it a great place for a fun pit stop when you are running errands. Even better – grab a book at the nearby (and wonderful) Gently Used Books and bring the kids to park for reading time!

LAKE DRIVE PARK AND RECREATION AREA
Location: 520 Lake Drive, Douglassville, PA 19518, near the intersection with Rosewood Drive
Size: 25 acres
Suitability: The park is easily accessible for people of all ages and mobility levels. The pavilion is accessible by vehicles, so you could drive up there to unload supplies for a picnic or party.  No animals are allowed in the park, with the exception of service animals, so leave your pets at home when visiting.
Facilities: Playground, skatepark, baseball fields, tennis courts, picnic pavilion, basketball
Activities and tips: Bring a skateboard (and helmet) and give the skate park a try for something different.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Contact:
Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518
610-689-6000
Website: http://www.amitytownshippa.com/

Recreational Facilities webpage

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Amity Community Park: An active family destination

Just when my kids were starting to get antsy about yet another park visit, we turned onto Weavertown Road and Amity Community Park came into view. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my husband had barely gotten the car into park when the kids were already opening their doors and setting out to explore the extensive playgrounds that the park offers.

Set behind the St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, on Weavertown Road, across from the Amity Township Municipal Building and just before the Daniel Boone Middle School is this amazing community park. The Sunday afternoon we visited, the park was in constant motion. Tons of kids were on the playground, filling the space with high-pitched squeals, shouts of “you’re it!” and little voices pleading for just one more turn on the swings. That’s the good stuff of childhood and it was there in abundance in Amity Community Park.

With a perfect fall day as the backdrop-just a slight breeze and the still bright sun-we followed the walking path up to the pavilion where we could get a better view, both down to the playground and beyond to the expanse of ball fields, all full of players on this busy day. Teams from Daniel Boone Youth Sports were on some fields; others were occupied by the Berkshire Baseball Tournament League. And the telltale pop-up chairs and baseball bags all meant the same thing: fall baseball. 

In visiting all the parks in this series, I have noticed the variety of landscape we enjoy in this part of Pennsylvania. When you are in a park in Pottstown, you might notice that the walking path is steep in some places and flat in others. When you are standing in the middle of Amity Community Park, surrounded by the gorgeous fall foliage, you can’t help but notice that the landscape has changed dramatically thanks to the mountains of even this eastern portion of Berks County.

We made our way back to the playground where, as usual, the kids hit every single piece of equipment that spins, while my husband and I took advantage of the gazebo that sits between the two playgrounds for a little rest and some shade. Amity Community Park is a great, active destination for families.

Another thing to note about Amity Community Park, and the other parks in this township, is that they are open early and late – from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. After speaking with township officials, I learned that the township Board of Supervisors voted to extend the park hours for people who want to use the walking trails. While the park is open late, the trails are not lit. If you’re out after dark, or before the sun comes up, bring a flashlight and a friend. The pavilion and parking lot are the only lighted areas. 

AMITY COMMUNITY PARK
Location: On Weavertown Road, just west of the intersection with Route 662 (Old Swede Road), across from the Municipal Building. Use 2004 Weavertown Road, Douglassville, PA 19518
Size: 44.6 acres
Suitability: Plan a family outing to Amity Community Park for the playgrounds and stay to watch a baseball game or have lunch at the covered pavilion. With paved walkways and a gently sloped walking trail, the whole family can enjoy this park.
Facilities: Playgrounds, open space, picnic tables and covered pavilion, seating area with shade, baseball fields, football/soccer/field hockey fields and internal trails
Hours: 6 AM to 11PM If you’re looking for somewhere to get your exercise early in the morning or late in the evening, the Amity parks are the place to go.

Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518
610-689-6000
Website: http://www.amitytownshippa.com/
Recreational Facilities webpage

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

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Ironstone Park: A place to re-connect

After a little research and Google Maps, we found directions to Ironstone Park in Douglass Township, Berks County. It seemed like it would be fairly close to Municipal Park, which had been our first destination of the day, and, thankfully, it was. We took a left out of the Municipal Park parking lot and then made a right on Grist Mill Road. The road twisted and turned, passing some Pine Forge Athletic Association fields and the Glendale swim club. Just when I thought maybe we had missed the park, we drove under a railroad trestle and over a metal bridge and found this little hidden treasure of a park. According to the township, the actual address of the park is 141 Grist Mill Road, which is helpful to have for the GPS.

One of the things I enjoy most about heading out to a park with my family is getting the chance to “unplug” and just hang out together. Nothing fancy-just a quickly packed picnic lunch and a change of scenery is generally all it takes to get that feeling. This day was no exception. We had made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (and one Nutella sandwich), thrown a few apples and water bottles into a reusable grocery bag after church, and headed out the door.

If you are like me, it’s hard to remove yourself from the demands of home and work and everything that presses in on family time. The phone rings; the laundry is sitting at the top of the steps waiting to be done; the endless “to-do” list sits on the counter just begging to be read. Taking our simple lunch to the park meant leaving all those things behind and just connecting. My husband and older daughter played soccer in the big open space at the front of the car. We all had lunch together-with only a little grumbling about the PB&J. We skipped rocks in the creek and tried out the exercise equipment (with the kids having a little more success than I did when it came to the balance beam, I am a bit mortified to admit). Essentially, we were able to disconnect from the world, and just connect with each other in a way that is much harder to do at home.

The habit of going to the park as a family started naturally for us. When our oldest daughter was born, we lived in an apartment that didn’t offer any usable outside space, so we would pack ourselves and our dinner up and go to our favorite local parks for the evening. Later, when we moved from West Chester to Delaware, I spent hours exploring the beautiful parks our area had to offer. Since then, we have continued the tradition of visiting parks as a family.

Ironstone Park was the perfect spot, then, for our simple Sunday afternoon picnic. There is plenty of open space for kicking a soccer ball around, and there is a simple baseball field that would be great for an impromptu game. The playground is small in scale and may be geared a bit more toward the preschool set rather than older, school-aged kids, but my kids still enjoyed it. The exercise equipment was fun, too, with all of us trying out our strength on the bars and our agility and balance on the beam and the posts.

The covered pavilion was great for getting some shade while we ate; the open (and clean) bathrooms were icing on the cake. It’s unusual to find bathroom facilities at a park and always a welcome amenity when we do. We also followed the path along the creek a ways, and then spent some very important time just chucking pebbles and leaves into the water. Thankfully, none of us fell into the water, or the trip wouldn’t have ended as well.

Skipping stones

Put Ironstone Park on your “to-do” list before this fall is over, experience the beautiful setting and the gorgeous fall colors, and re-connect with those close to you.

IRONSTONE PARK (DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP/BERKS COUNTY)
Location: 141 Grist Mill Road, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: 20 acres
Suitability: With shaded pavilions, playground and just plenty of room to enjoy the natural setting, the whole family can appreciate Ironstone Park.
Facilities: Picnic tables, pavilions, playground, exercise stations, basketball, baseball, creek, restrooms
Activities and Tips: Take some time to check out this out-of-the-way park. Pack a lunch (or dinner while it’s still light enough) and enjoy some time in the outdoors with your family.
Hours: Dawn until dusk.

Contact:
Douglass Township Municipal Building
1068 Douglass Drive
Boyertown, PA. 19512
Office: 610-367-8500 Fax: 610-367-0360
Office Hours: Monday through Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Douglass Township Parks & Recreation webpage a=1462&Q=454716&douglassNav=|27508|
For park pavilion rentals, see here.

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

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Ironstone Parking

Ironstone Pavilion

Open Field at Ironstone Park

Play equipment

Goose Run Park open for hunting; hikers use caution.

The Penn State Study does not mention Goose Run Park, an 82-acre property owned by Douglass Township. We learned of the park via the Township’s website and a phone call to the Township, but we did not visit the park, which has fairly new hiking trails.

Goose Run Park is open for hunting September through January. Hiking is still allowed in Goose Run during hunting season, and hikers and hunters alike should use caution.The Township website gives plenty of information about the dates of hunting season and the requirements for hunters. Permits are required. The use of rifles is strictly prohibited. Hunting is limited to residents of Douglass Township and one guest. Warnings and recommendations for hikers are posted at the park entrances on Goose Run Road and Levengood Road.

This is a good time to mention that all hikers enjoying Pennsylvania parks should make themselves aware of the hunting rules for any property, should dress accordingly, should stay on clearly-marked trails, and should use their own best judgment about when/whether to hike on any given day or at certain hours.

GOOSE RUN PARK (DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP, BERKS COUNTY)

*We did not visit Goose Run, which was not in the Penn State Study. Information obtained from Township website & Township manager’s office.*

Location: There are two entrances: At the end of Goose Run Road and at approximately 1600 Levengood Road, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: 82 acres
Suitability: Hunters who are Township residents; adult hikers and children & teens with adult supervision.
Facilities: Wooded trails
Activities and tips: Hunting is allowed for Township residents only. Contact the Township for rules and permit. Hikers should use caution during hunting season which is Sept. 18, 2010 through January 29, 2011.
Hours: Dawn until dusk.
Contact:

Douglass Township Municipal Building
1068 Douglass Drive
Boyertown, PA. 19512
Office:  610-367-8500     Fax: 610-367-0360
Office Hours: Monday through Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Douglass Township Parks & Recreation webpage
For park pavilion rentals, see here

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

Douglass Township’s Municipal Park stands the test of time

The Douglass Township Municipal Park sits, appropriately, directly behind the municipal building on Douglass Drive in Boyertown. This unassuming park makes great use of each of its 8 acres. Even though it’s only considered a medium sized park in the Penn State Study, there is a lot going on and plenty to do.

The park is home to Pine Forge Athletic Association’s baseball and softball programs, which run in the spring and the fall. The fields are beautifully maintained, but the largest field is for use with a permit only.  Spectators can enjoy amphitheater style seating at the big field, while the upper fields have small bleachers and are more the BYOC type (bring your own chair).

If you’re at the park for a game, be sure to check out some of the other activities it offers. With a covered pavilion, it’s a nice spot for a meal after the game.  There are two basketball courts, three tennis courts and two playgrounds.

Unlike other parks, which separate their playgrounds into age groups, Municipal Park’s playgrounds are separated by age of equipment. A new, modern play structure that has recently been covered with netting, to ensure that fly balls do not become hazardous to kids on the slide or the monkey bars, sits just behind the big field and below the softball field. Closer to the main entrance of the park is the “nostalgic” playground equipment.

My oldest daughter played fall ball for Pine Forge last year, and my younger kids loved the Conestoga wagon, the swings and the old metal slide that made up the lower playground. They were a little disappointed to find that the slide has now been replaced with a less heat retaining plastic version, but they were thrilled to find that the metal merry-go-round was still there. I guess some play equipment can really stand the test of time because they pick that lower playground over the newer equipment pretty much every time we visit the park.

Municipal Park is mostly a baseball and softball destination, but unlike some other fields we’ve visited, there are more than enough other activities to keep your family busy, whether you are visiting during a game or stopping in for a game of tennis or basketball. The layout of the park is also very smart, with all the sports action centered around the playgrounds.

DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP MUNICIPAL PARK (BERKS COUNTY)
Location: 1068 Douglass Drive, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: 8 acres
Suitability:  Although Municipal Park is geared toward baseball and softball, there are many other things to do for all ages and interests.
Facilities: Playgrounds, pavilions, picnic tables, tennis courts, basketball court, baseball
Activities and tips: If you are at the park for a game, be sure to check out everything it has to offer.  Bring a basketball or your tennis gear.  Note: if you are headed to Municipal Park for softball, the parking lot is accessed by a gravel drive that runs behind the baseball fields.  There is a large sign directing cars around the back and up the hill to the parking area for the softball fields. The fields are generally accessible, with the caveat that the parking is all gravel.
Hours: Dawn until dusk.

Douglass Township Municipal Building
1068 Douglass Drive
Boyertown, PA. 19512
Office:  610-367-8500     Fax: 610-367-0360
Office Hours: Monday through Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Douglass Township Parks & Recreation webpage
For park pavilion rentals, see here.

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

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Childhood obesity declared national epidemic: Take your child to a park today!

Note: The article below is the first in a four-part series on Childhood Obesity presented by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Corresponding Webisodes are available for viewing on www.missionhealthyliving.org.

Positively!Pottstown has teamed up with the Foundation to promote the parks and recreational opportunities in its service area, which includes Pottstown and a 10-mile radius around Pottstown. You can find the series here. We will be posting new articles every weekday through the first week of November.

IT’S OFFICIAL, CHILDHOOD OBESITY
HAS BEEN DECLARED A NATIONAL EPIDEMIC

By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

A recent White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President, Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, released some startling information—childhood obesity has become an epidemic in America and it is now considered a national health crisis. An epidemic, by definition, is a rapid spread or development of something. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of childhood obesity has actually tripled over the past 30 years. Obesity among children ages six to 11 increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. Adolescent obesity in 12 to 19 year olds increased from 5% in 1980 to 18.1% in 2008.

In addition to these startling statistics, the Report to the President cited that one third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime and the current generation may even be on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. The Report goes on to say that the epidemic of childhood obesity is costing more than $3 billion a year in direct medical expenses and that is likely to rise if not stopped. Childhood obesity will also have a potential impact on the United States’ military readiness. More than one quarter of all Americans aged 17-24 are unqualified for military service because they are too heavy.

What is obesity?
Obesity is defined by an accumulation of excess body fat. There are different criteria to determine if a child is considered obese. Two of the more common methods are measuring skin-fold thickness, which classifies a child as overweight if he or she has at least 25-30% body fat, and using Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is the measurement of a person’s weight in relation to his or her height. To calculate BMI, multiply the person’s weight in pounds and divide that by the square of his or her height in inches. For adults, overweight is a BMI greater than 25; obese is a BMI greater than 30. Growth charts from the CDC are used to calculate a child’s BMI based on sex and age because of changes during growth and development. A child is considered overweight if his or her BMI is at or above the 85th percentile; they are considered obese if the BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.

How did we get here?
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the childhood obesity epidemic. The tendency for a child to be overweight can actually start before birth. If the mother uses tobacco, gains excessive weight or has diabetes, that child has an increased risk of being obese during the preschool years.

Other contributing factors are the changes in the American lifestyle over the last 30 years. This includes eating more fast foods, convenience foods, and processed foods and drinking more sugar-laden beverages. Often, families don’t sit down together to have dinner anymore. Dinner is on the run and fit in between activities, which usually means going through the fast food drive-in. Add this factor to the decrease of exercise children are getting because of an increase in sedentary activities like TV viewing, playing video games, and socializing on a computer or cell phone. Also, children rarely walk or bike to school anymore. They are driven or take the bus. Children who watch a lot of TV are also more likely to snack; plus, getting too much “screen” time has been associated with children getting less and poorer quality sleep. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a risk of obesity.

Children whose parents are overweight or obese are also at risk. The parents are not living a healthful lifestyle and that becomes the child’s role model. Surprisingly, psychological factors are a contributing factor. Overeating is a way to cope with problems or stress, and children start to use food as a way to feel better about their situations at home or at school. Finally, there are socioeconomic factors. Children of low-income families are at risk due to fewer resources and less time to make exercise and eating well a priority.

What are we doing?
Even with all this disconcerting news, the Report to the President is hopeful that we are prepared to fight this epidemic through knowledge of what the causes are, what the risk factors are and what we can do as a country, as individual communities and as families to stop the epidemic.

In February 2010, Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move initiative to the nation. It is designed to get healthier foods in schools, give parents support to make healthier choices for their children, and get families up off the couch and active together. For more information on this program, go to http://www.letsmove.gov.

The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation continues to make strides in changing the health habits of area residents. The Foundation funds programs and services through grants to area organizations and schools that focus on teaching children and their families to live healthier lives.

About the Series – Childhood Obesity
This four-part article series was developed by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Corresponding Webisodes featuring local experts can be found on http://www.missionhealthyliving.org. The second article will discuss the warning signs, risk factors and long-term affects of childhood obesity. The third article will discuss what schools are doing across the nation, the state of Pennsylvania and in Greater Pottstown to combat childhood obesity. The final article will focus on what parents and children can do to start to change their habits, lose weight and live healthier lives.

About the Foundation
The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s new online community at www.missionhealthyliving.org to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

Douglass Park: Worth the trip

Douglass Park in Douglass Township, Montgomery County provides recreation to the area’s 10,000 residents in this community that spans Gilbertsville, parts of Boyertown and the surrounding towns between Boyertown Borough and New Hanover Township. The park sits just behind the municipal building and offers a wide variety of possibilities for recreation for visitors of all ages.

I had been to the park a few years ago, for an end-of-the-year preschool party and remembered my son and his friends enjoying the playground and the puddles that had formed after a recent rainstorm. But, I now realized, I had only seen a small part of the park that day because we had stayed close to the pavilion near the parking area.

On my recent visit, I walked the trail that follows the outer edge of the park, past the playground and the gazebo and alongside the baseball field. As the path turned another corner, I walked past a soccer field and toward two more pavilions (conveniently numbered “2” and “3”). There were a few people playing tennis on the courts, even though a light rain had started just as I arrived. The tennis courts are a great asset as most of the other parks in the area don’t offer these among their facilities. There are two full-sized courts and a wall for practicing.

Another playground sits closer to the soccer fields, which is great for those younger siblings who get dragged along to their older siblings’ soccer games. The smaller of the two playgrounds is also situated closely to the smaller pavilions. As the path took me back to the park entrance, I noticed a basketball court next to the gravel parking lot and very close to the largest pavilion.

One of the best features of this park is its location. So many times, I find myself running errand after errand and oftentimes my kids are along for the ride. A quick stop at this park could be just what they need to run off some energy after a seemingly endless trip to the grocery store or Wal-mart. Douglass Park in Montgomery County is worth the trip.

DOUGLASS PARK – MONTGOMERY COUNTY
Location: 1320 East Philadelphia Avenue, Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Size: 19.6 acres
Suitability: With all the park offers, visitors of every age can enjoy Douglass Park. The main pavilion is situated very close to the parking lot which makes for great accessibility.
Facilities: Playground, pavilions, picnic tables, grills, tennis courts, benches, gazebo, walking or running trail, basketball court, baseball and soccer fields, large open spaces.
Activities and tips: Bring a tennis racket and a friend and play a game or two, or just use the wall near the courts to practice your volley. Pack a lunch and bring the kids to the park; they will have enough to do for several hours.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Contact:
Douglass Township
1320 E. Philadelphia Avenue
P.O. Box 297
Gilbertsville PA 19525
610-367-6062
Website: www.douglasstownship.org

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

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Last Weekend for WAIT UNTIL DARK!

If you haven’t seen it yet, get your tickets NOW! The thriller play, WAIT UNTIL DARK, is at Tri-PAC tonight through Sunday. Tri-PAC is at 245 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464. Showtimes are tonight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m.; Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. I’ll be there tonight and can’t wait!

From Tri-PAC’s website:
Play by Frederick Knott
Presented by arrangement with Dramatists Play Service
Not recommended for young children due to frightening themes

A Broadway hit, this masterfully constructed thriller moves from one moment of suspense to another as it builds toward an electrifying, breath-stopping final scene. “…a first rate shocker…the suspense drama we’ve long awaited eagerly.” —NY Post. In the play, a blind woman is terrorized by thugs while they search for a mysterious doll. Through a clever deception, the ex-cons convince the woman that her husband is implicated in a murder and that the doll is the key to his innocence. But the ex-cons are about to meet their match as a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues leading to a heart-stopping finale. The original Broadway production starred Lee Remick and Robert Duvall and the movie adaptation starred Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna. Another “fun fact”: WAIT UNTIL DARK is 10th on Bravo TV’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its riveting climax.

Municipal & Franklin Street Parks: Small parks, big fun

While Boyertown Community Park may get most of the attention in town, and deservedly so, there are two small parks in the borough that residents and visitors alike should know about and take some time to visit: Municipal Park and Franklin Street Mini-park.

Whee!
I actually started my family tour of Boyertown parks with Municipal Park. To be honest, it was a little challenging to find, because there are no markings or signage for the park. We thought a good place to look for Municipal Park would be near the municipal building, and we were right. This unassuming neighborhood spot sits directly behind the Boyertown Borough Police Department at the intersection of 3rd and Franklin Streets.

Municipal Park is home to a nice playground, a basketball court and enough open space to throw a baseball or kick around a soccer ball. The play equipment was just interesting enough to hold the attention of two 6-year-old boys while my husband and I walked around to check out the rest of the property. It’s not a destination park, but it offers some open space and room to play for neighborhood kids.

At the northern end of Franklin Street, we discovered the aptly named Franklin Street Mini-park. This park has been the subject of some recent commentary about teenagers hanging about and making it less than enjoyable for kids and their parents, but the afternoon we visited the park was nearly empty. In the Penn State study that inspired this review of area parks, Franklin Street Mini-park is listed as having “internal trails.” In this case, that phrasing may be an overstatement since the trail is the circular paved route around the play equipment. But, if your child is learning to ride a bike, or likes riding a scooter, this round track would be endless amounts of fun.

Franklin Street Mini-park

The playground offered plenty of spinning equipment, a new-fashioned teeter-totter, swings and plenty of places to run and explore. There is also a basketball court set back toward the rear of the park. It is close to the State Theatre of Boyertown (home of the cheap movie tickets!) and would be a great way to kill some time before a movie or to run off some steam after one.

MUNICIPAL PARK
Location: Franklin and 3rd Streets, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: This small park sits just behind the municipal building in Boyertown.
Suitability: Municipal Park has the feel of a neighborhood playground. With just enough to keep the kids entertained, it’s a great place to kick around a soccer ball or just let the kids play on the equipment for a bit.
Facilities: Playground, basketball court, large, fenced open space
Activities and Tips: Bring a basketball for a quick game or let the kids play on the swings. This small neighborhood park is a real asset to the surrounding houses.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

FRANKLIN STREET MINI-PARK
Location: Franklin and 5th Streets, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: This small park occupies roughly 2 lots on the corner.
Suitability: Franklin Street Mini-park is best suited to young children. The size of the park and the scale of the playground make it perfect for pre-school and younger school-aged kids. There is a basketball court that older kids would like.
Facilities: Playground, benches, paved walkway around the play area, swings, basketball court.
Activities and Tips: This park would be a great pit stop before or after a movie. Its small size doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot for the kids to do.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Contact:
Borough of Boyertown
100 South Washington Street
Boyertown, PA 19512
Phone: 610-369-3028
Website: www.boyertownborough.org

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

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Municipal Park

Franklin Street tot lot

Fun at Franklin

Taking a break...