Dear Friends and Colleagues,

A Healthy Community presentation opening slide. What is it? Do we have one? If not, how do we create one? Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Activities LeagueDuring the month of October, participants in The World As It Could Be Is Within Reach Rite of Passage program gain information on, as well as direct experience with, the importance of recreation to their own health and well-being, as well as that of the community as a whole.

Recently, Hilary Bass, Executive Director of DSAL, once again presented to the class, joined by James Wheeler, the Recreation, Arts & Community Services Director of the Hayward Recreation and Park District (HARD).  Hilary and James provided compelling information on the benefits of access to open space and recreational activities that include providing safe, nurturing spaces for people to connect socially, encouraging fitness that can improve academic performance as well as overall health, and to increasing the overall safety of the public—preventing violence and crime.

James made a major point that access to open space and recreation was essentially a human right, which, in fact, it is, as spelled out in UDHR Article 24: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.  Here is a link to the information Hilary and James presented, that includes links to information from prior years about the importance of recreation.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 24: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

What I enjoy presenting to the Rite of Passage participants in connection with recreation, is information about the Wilderness Letter written in 1960 by writer Wallace Stegner. This Letter contributed greatly to the 1964 enactment of the Wilderness Act.

Here is a link to the Wilderness Letter for your own reading enjoyment. And, here is more information about the Wilderness Act, presented by the Wilderness Society.

One excerpt that I read out loud each year is:

“We need wilderness preserved—as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds—because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old simply because it is there—important, that is, simply as an idea.”

In the midst of these extremely turbulent times, where we face numerous challenges from the health of our environment and our political system to the often fractious ways we communicate with each other, it seems we could benefit from contemplating what this idea of treasuring our open spaces can mean to us.

In his closing of the Wilderness Letter, Mr. Stegner implores, “We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

Photograph of Yosemite Valley taken by Sandy SohcotPerhaps, we can all take a moment of time from our busy lives to be in a beautiful open space, to exercise our right to rest and leisure, while also replenishing our energy for all the work ahead of us to successfully address our challenges.

With appreciation and best regards,
Sandy Sohcot, Director