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Russ Hemphill | Take two walks in the park and call me in the morning

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If your workplace is like mine, it isn’t always the most relaxed place on the planet.

So, when things get tense, I sometimes grab my running shoes and shades and in 5 minutes I’m down First Street, over RiverWalk Crossing and into Riverfront Park.

And I walk. Down to Fifth Street, back up to First Street and then up to The World and the daily deadlines.

I almost always feel better. Somehow along the way I leave a little of what was pressing. Maybe it’s the green grass. Maybe it’s dodging the sprinklers. Or maybe it’s the other people. (I gotta get one of those Mohawk bike helmets.)

That’s the power of a park.

It’s what Rufus Woods writes about in a series of reports that began in the summer. If you missed the series in The Wenatchee World — More Than A Park — it’s worth your time to check them out at wenatcheeworld.com, where we’ve collected them all. (Find them with a “More Than a Park” search.)

Rufus writes about the substantial effort to revitalize the South Wenatchee neighborhood around Kiwanis Methow Park.

In important ways, the story he tells is a health care and business story. We’ve included one of the columns in this month’s Business World where Rufus takes a close look at what park-related development efforts may mean to community health.

This is how Rufus sees it: The series “will highlight engaged and involved people … (working to) create a place that fosters mental, physical and social well being. I’ll also explore the way businesses and civic leaders are investing their time and treasure to support this neighborhood redevelopment project.”

The report inside this magazine explores the importance of parks to health and reducing health care costs. “Health care as delivered in the traditional model is more about fixing illness than promoting well-being,” Rufus writes. “Paying health care facilities based on how many people they try to fix is treating the ultimate health outcome, rather than working upstream to address the social determinants of health.

The efforts to promote and encourage health and well-being using a well-designed neighborhood park that is created with the help of engaged neighbors could, with creative programs, make a measurable difference in health for a fraction of the cost of conventional healthcare.”

If he’s right, the Kiwanis Methow Park project truly will make it More Than a Park.