OH! stands for Outdoor Happiness. That is exactly what McKee Foods (parent company of Little Debbie) wants to see more of with its parks and recreation grants. The best kind of outdoor happiness is a little different for each community. Whether your project involves rolling or strolling, hiking or biking, jogging or clogging, it will be considered by the Outdoor Happiness program just as long as it tempts residents to enjoy the fresh air and move in a joyful way. Their goal is to support 50 projects in all 50 states over a five-year period to the tune of $1 million plus. That is quite a bit of happiness!
OH! The Outdoor Happiness Movement
The purpose of this versatile grant is to help create, improve, and/or preserve natural and open-air spaces for residents to enjoy. Below are selected examples of projects the OH! Movement has either funded or provided support for. For a complete list, refer to the interactive map which includes all projects by state:
- Seattle, WA - It's a gym! It's a park! It's both! The Seattle Fitness Zone helps park visitors get their workouts in with the addition of weather-resistant cardio and strength training equipment.
- Chicago, IL - Skyscrapers are not the only reason to look up in the Windy City. The 606, a three-mile, multi-use trail on an old elevated rail line, is a verdant overhead ribbon connecting six urban neighborhoods.
- Los Angeles, CA - The only green space within a half-mile radius, a vacant lot in an underserved neighborhood received a star makeover to become Carlton Way Pocket Park.
- Winona Lake, IN - Residents will now have a universal access playground in Winona Lake Limitless Park complete with splash pad.
- Kingman, AZ - Softball, soccer, basketball, tennis... The scorching Arizona summers will not wilt the enthusiasm of Kingman's sports aficionados with a new pavilion in Centennial Park to help them beat the heat.
- Wasilla, AK - Doing the right thing also makes us happy. Vally Community Recycling Solutions developed an education program to teach the public about sustainable management as they explore nature trails.
- Green Bay, WI - Hikers along the Fox River State Trail, a historic walkway used by Native Americans, are seeing the light as the previous damaged and worn-out lightening system is being replaced by a new LED energy-efficient one.
The Benefits of Being Outside
If we keep pointing out the individual and community benefits of green space in our parks and recreation grant posts, it is only because there are so many of them. Since summer has arrived, here are 11 scientific reasons from Business Insider on why getting up from your desk to relish the sunshine, maybe even running your bare toes through the grass, is necessary self-care:
- Improved short-term memory
- Restored mental energy
- Stress relief
- Reduced inflammation
- Better vision
- Improved concentration
- Sharper thinking and creativity
- Possible anti-cancer effects?
- Immune system boost
- Improved mental health
- Lower mortality rates
Applying for OH! Funding
Eligible applicants are state and local governments and nonprofits. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and matching funds are not required. Award is up to $20,000 and the OH! Movement has partnered in the past with other organizations like the Trust for Public Land to fund larger projects.
Editors Note: This post was scheduled to run on the first day of summer. Due to a technical glitch or potential operator error (imagine sheepish emoji here), it accidentally debuted for a short time on Monday, June 12, before the mistake was caught. We apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused anyone! Now, back to our regularly scheduled happiness...