Stark Parks is the 2019 Governor’s Award Winner


Stark Parks’ Mindfulness Walk is the winner of the 10th Annual Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation presented by Ohio Parks and Recreation Association.

“This project is an amazing example of the work that parks and recreation professionals do on a daily basis,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward.  “For many years, we have talked about parks and recreation changing lives. This is an example of a parks and recreation project that is saving lives.”

Partnering with Stark Mental Health and Addiction Recovery agency (Stark MHAR), Stark Parks set out to create a space at Petros Lake Park that was designated for meditation and self-care. From here, the Mindfulness Walk concept originated. The ten stations along the trail feature signs with instructions or prompts for a specific mindful activity and a reflection question.

A Walk for Suicide Awareness with 175 participants was recently held at the site, with more programming planned in the future. The park district has heard comments and stories about reducing the stigma, the community now having a reflective respite or users simply finding their own sense of calm when using the trail. A study is planned through a local university to measure individuals’ feelings following use of the walk.

The Governor’s Award was established in 2010 to recognize the one park and recreation program or project that has had the most significant impact on quality of life in the preceding year.  The award winner was announced and the award presented at the OPRA Annual Awards Dinner on February 4 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky.

All fourteen winners of OPRA program and project awards were considered for this statewide “best in show” award.

Officials from seven statewide organizations formed the voting panel for the 2019 award.  They included: Ohio Association of Broadcasters, Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, Ohio Homebuilders Association, Ohio Library Council, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Ohio Municipal League and Ohio Township Association.  They judged the program and project winners based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated impact of the program or project on the community quality of life;
  • The project or program is unique/innovative or presents a new way of doing something;
  • The program or project addresses a felt need in the community and includes clear goals which are achieved; and,
  • The program or project is utilized by the community and outcomes can be demonstrated.

In addition to the Governor’s Award trophy, Stark Parks received a proclamation from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and a $500 contribution to their parks foundation.

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