LETTER: Gradual reopening of Jersey City parks good for physical and mental health

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In a letter to the editor, Jersey City teacher, parent, and teachers union executive board member Mike Greco says he supports the gradual reopening of the local parks will be good for the physical and mental health of all residents.

Leonard Gordon Park in Jersey City. Facebook photo.

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to voice my strong support regarding the decision by Mayor Fulop, the City Council and the Dept. of Health and Human Services to reopen our parks with restrictions.

As a teacher, not a day goes by since that second week of March where everything changed that I don’t worry about many of my students and all the students of our city who are stuck at home, some with parents who have lost everything adding to their constant anxiety and worry.

Many are in this situation with no escape and with the news media constantly on in the background replaying worse case scenarios for them to hear. I can’t shake the sights and sounds of March 13th, as we told our students that school would be canceled indefinitely.

Most did not say anything, but the look of worry and uncertainty in their faces was undeniable. As a parent I see the toll it has on my own daughter as whenever I leave the house she jumps to ask where I am going with a worried tone.

All many of these kids want, are to see their friends and relatives again and to be back in their safe space, their second home; their school.

Since those options are not possible right now, they need signs of hope and they need them soon or their mental health will continue to deteriorate. You will see depression, anxiety and much worse.

Opening the parks, which is considered by many health experts to be extremely low risk, adds a a glimmer of hope for our children and many others. It allows people to see that the life that was once lived will eventually slowly come back to normal.

Taking a walk in the park with their family and getting fresh air and sunlight while seeing and talking to others, possibly friends and relatives (while safely socially distancing) will speak volumes and give them some type of security and comfort that is desperately needed right now.

The same benefits ca be said about the elderly, who live alone. Getting out for a simple walk in the park and seeing and talking to others from a few feet away will ease their loneliness and give them a light at the end of the tunnel as well.

In a busy city like ours, our sidewalks do not provide a proper space to safely do all of this without social distancing and maintaining safety.

Opening these parks with precautions and staff to make sure safe guards are in place will provide a clear healthy solution to these issues. Mental health, unfortunately has take a back door in this pandemic and many are suffering because of it.

This will be a real solution to keep people mentally and physically healthy while being safe, until our city and our state begin to slowly reopen and we work to get back into our lives.

Sincerely,

Mike Greco

Proud Parent & Public School Teacher
JCEA Executive Board Member