Park signs promote mental health

Staff report

DARKE COUNTY — A series of signs along the “Jim Buchy Mile” walking and biking trail in Greenville encourages the practice of mindfulness techniques while enjoying the natural surroundings. The signs are a cooperative project between the Darke County Park District, the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services, and NAMI Darke, Miami, and Shelby Counties. The signs were provided at no cost to the Park District. The five signs are located on a short section of the trail. The southwest end of the section is accessed behind the Main-Rite Sandwich Shop at 125 N. Broadway, Greenville, and the northeast end is just past the bend in Wilson Drive, near the Greenville Creek.

The link between natural spaces and mental wellness has long been established, During the pandemic there has been a general concern for mental health and self-care, especially with mindfulness and anti-anxiety techniques. Walking in the parks is something that can be done safely even during a pandemic, and it goes a long way toward promoting both physical health and mental health. Tri-County Board Director of Community Resource Development Brad Reed and Mandy Martin, a Tri-County Board member and naturalist with the Darke County Park District, went through several revisions before landing on the “environMENTAL HEALTH” concept. They decided just to do five basic concepts in a simple form that introduces people to the idea of mindfulness and being aware of their surroundings.

They also brought NAMI Darke, Miami, and Shelby Counties in as a partner. NAMI is a grassroots organization helping families and individuals with advocacy and education about mental illness. Each of the five signs is different as to which concept is being highlighted, but they have some common information as well. This text appears on each of the signs: “MINDFULNESS is the practice of being present in the HERE and NOW, rather than worrying about the past or being anxious about the future. EXPERIENCING NATURE with mindful curiosity promotes good mental health, renews mind and body, and contributes to resilience in the face of challenges.”

The signs have a QR code linking to the Tri-County Board website for more information about self-care and resilience, www.tcbmds.org/resilience. Reed said the Board is finalizing versions of the signs to be placed in Miami County parks, and have had discussions with Sidney City as well. “The Tri-County Board serves Darke, Miami and Shelby Counties, so we’d like to have the same presence in all three counties,” Reed said. “We are excited to partner with organizations in our communities to promote mental wellness and resilience. The parks are a great place to relax, unwind and reset our perspectives, so that’s a natural partnership that I hope will continue.”