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It takes vision, bold moves to make quality of life thrive

Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District


October 13, 2018

Michelle Vance

To create good quality of life for a community, you need to have vision.

You need to be able to openly look at your city, see its beauty, see its potential and be honest when there are things that need to change. There are many aspects of our existing parks and facilities that need TLC. There are many additions we should be making now, not necessarily for us, but for the future generations of Tehachapi.

Our vision is obtainable.

According to the National Recreation and Park Association, spending more time in parks and/or green spaces can help fight against many mental health issues, like depression, stress and anxiety. Making sure every resident (both current and future) in our beautiful community, has access to not just green space, but gorgeous, well-maintained, sustainable parks and recreation facilities is a guaranteed way to increase the quality of life for our residents and maintain a healthy community.

Studies from NRPA have revealed:

• "People living more than 1 mile away from a green space have nearly 50 percent higher odds of experiencing stress than those living less than 300 feet from a green space. Respondents who do not report stress have more than 50 percent higher odds of visiting a green space at least a few days a week than those reporting stress. Results also showed that the more often respondents visited green spaces, the less stress they experienced.

• Several studies have confirmed that separation from nature is detrimental to human development, health and wellbeing, and that regular contact with nature is required for good mental health.

• Scientists in the Netherlands found that people who lived in residential areas with the least green spaces had a 44 percent higher rate of physician-diagnosed anxiety disorders than people who lived in the greenest residential areas.

• Physician-diagnosed depression was 33 percent higher in the residential areas with the fewest green spaces, compared to the neighborhoods with the most.

• Individuals reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction when they were living in greener areas.

• A strong body of evidence suggests that physical activity in green spaces has stronger mental health benefits than physical activity in non-green spaces.

• Use of green spaces is associated with decreased health complaints, improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduced stress, improved general health perceptions and a greater ability to face problems.

I understand that when you explore our town now, you see these necessary green spaces already. You know and feel the positive impact they have on our daily lives. And because local government and residents made building and maintaining these areas and facilities possible many years ago, we get to enjoy them today.

So much of what we live, breath and enjoy within our city limits was put in place by the vision and commitment of people many years ago. They weren't building it for them, they were building it for future generations. It is irresponsible of us to simply live for us and care only for current residents. We need to look ahead and care for the broken pieces, the worn-out earth and the outdated facilities.

If we don't do it now, future generations of Tehachapi residents won't get to know what living in a small community with huge quality of life benefits feels like.

Michelle Vance is the District Manager of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in public administration from Cal State Bakersfield and has lived in Tehachapi for 26 years.


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