Peoria Park District reminds people to social distance and celebrate Earth Day safely at parks and trails

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Park District parks and trails remain open and with warmer, sunnier weather on the way, leaders want people to use them safely.

The Park District has taken action by closing playgrounds, basketball courts, and tennis courts.

Executive Director Emily Cahill says it’s important for people to avoid crowds, stay six feet apart, and wash your hands before and after visiting parks and trails.

“This is the time of year when people want to get outside and engage in group activities and really, what we need people to do is focus on things like walking and hiking rather than those group activities,” said Cahill.

Cahill says it’s the responsibility of everyone who uses parks and trails to enjoy them safely.

“We need people to do their part and honor those rules themselves, so that we can all continue to use the space,” said Cahill.

For Earth Day, Cahill says there are benefits to enjoying the outdoors and getting fresh air.

“There is a lot of research that says even if you spend just 20 minutes outside a day that not only are you physically healthier, but also emotionally as well,” said Cahill.

Staying active and enjoying nature can also help with stress.

“In times like this when anxiety is high and people are stressed out, taking that opportunity to get outside and just breathe is something that we should all make sure that we’re trying to do everyday,” said Cahill.

Cahill also adds that the Peoria Park District has been impacted by COVID-19. She says many of their programs and activities that create revenue are closed, but its expenses continue.

In mid-March, 300 part time employees were laid off. Two weeks ago, 30 of the district’s 135 full time employees were furloughed.

“Our goal throughout this process is to support as many of our full time employees as possible,” said Cahill.

The Peoria Park District is hosting online and at-home activities that people can do to celebrate Earth Day all week long.

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