Baltimore County Now
Michael L. Schneider, Community Outreach Liaison, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Park
When someone asks us about the “value” of volunteers over in Recreation and Parks, we have to respond in a couple of ways - about a gazillion dollars-worth and immeasurable! The truth of the matter is, we couldn’t run our department without our incredible and indispensable volunteers.
Now, don’t get us wrong. Without our incomparable professional/paid staff, there’d be no Baltimore County Recreation and Parks. While professional staff facilitates and provides guidance, it is our volunteers who do most of the programming, staff individual programs, and handle a myriad of details that allow the 46 Recreation and Nature Councils to run so successfully throughout our beautiful county. It really does take a team to make these programs and sites run – professional staff and volunteers.
Now, here’s a number that will knock your socks off… more than 23,000. That’s approximately how many volunteers we currently have running the councils, coaching athletics, assisting therapeutic programs, keeping time at a game, offering dancers and artists that ever important outlet to hone and share their skills, coordinating leagues, chairing programs, raising funds, overseeing gardens, keeping score, leading hikes and more. The list of volunteer jobs just keeps going and growing.
So, who are our volunteers? Your neighbors, your friends, that college kid down the street. Our volunteers are people like Frank “Skip” Hammond, a ten plus year volunteer who is President of the Edgemere-Sparrows Point Recreation Council. Mr. Hammond sums up the volunteer experience with his comment, “being a recreation council volunteer is well worth the time and effort because you are able to see the positive changes in the community youth from their involvement in the programs your Rec Council provides. It is not about your Rec achievements, your Rec titles or awards, it always first and foremost about providing the best and most diverse opportunities for the kids.”
What do our volunteers all have in common? They are there for the program participants and they work to make a difference. They want to help youngsters develop through recreation, have fun, and they demonstrate the importance of giving back to the community.
You can’t pay enough to get folks like our volunteers. It is out of the kindness of their hearts, their willingness to make that difference. They seek out opportunities to build a smile, teach a skill and share the joys of developing community through recreation – that’s what our volunteers are all about!
So, we ask the question again…Who are our volunteers? Could it be you? The following is a link to all the recreation offices throughout the county. You’re almost certain to find something near your home or office in our county. Just visit our Recreation and Parks Volunteer page.
Just something to think about – 23,000, plus YOU. How’s it feel to know you can make a difference?!
The Perfect Location
US Lacrosse has begun construction of a new $15 million national headquarters complex in Sparks, Maryland. The 12 acre center includes an outdoor training facility for US National men’s and women’s teams, the Lacrosse Museum and National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, classrooms and offices.
“Sparks is the perfect location for the headquarters of lacrosse, Maryland’s official team sport,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We applaud the work US Lacrosse does to nurture teamwork, athletics and the spirit of good sportsmanship in our youth. We are proud to be the new home of a national athletic training facility, and look forward to cheering our national teams when they train in Baltimore County.”
About US Lacrosse
US Lacrosse, the governing body for what it calls America's fastest-growing sport, brings 70 employees to Baltimore County. The association has more than 430,000 members nationwide, with 67 chapters in 45 states.
The new national lacrosse center will be located at York Road and Loveton Circle in Sparks.
Intern, Baltimore County Communications Office
As I continue to make the transition into adulthood, I often find myself taking trips down memory lane. I recall racing home from school and flying through my homework so that I could get outside to a game of touch football or pick-up basketball with the other neighborhood kids. Before we knew it the sun would vanish and we’d all be heading in, ready to do it all over again the next day. Those were the good days, as many older adults might say.
But it seems as though today’s youth has a different idea of what makes a day good. Hours upon hours of fast-moving images on a screen with accompanying sound effects have replaced carefree outdoor play. It’s hard to believe that the average American child today spends only four to seven minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play, according to the National Wildlife Federation and their “Be Out There” initiative. While it may appear to be cool to spend hundreds of dollars on and obsess over the latest gadgets, the real expense is our nation’s declining health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than a third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. The fact is, the lack of outdoor physical activity decreases physical fitness levels, increases the frequency of ADHD, and increases stress levels in children. The National Wildlife Federation notes some surprising benefits to outdoor play which include:
· Healthier bodies with increased levels of Vitamin D, which helps to fight off serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
· Improved distance vision and reduced chance of nearsightedness.
· Improved performance on standardized tests and critical thinking skills.
· Stress levels have been shown to drop within minutes of “green time,” and free play with others helps with emotional development and lessens the chances of children developing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you ask me, it sounds like a pretty simple solution to such a growing problem. Encouraging kids to go out and play in the fresh air creates fun childhood memories while helping to build the body, spirit and mind.