The Celebration Garden and Wellness Park has a budget of just over $ 2 million. The money was raised through private donations.
Source: Jackie Krutsch, Executive Director of Advancement, Arkansas Colleges of Health Education
BARLING – A new park dedicated to celebrating life and supporting a healthy lifestyle will arrive in the Chaffee Crossing area later this year.
Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in Fort Smith is building a Celebration Garden and Wellness Park east of the Village at Heritage, a collection of nearby commercial and residential spaces it owns in Barling.
Jackie Krutsch, executive director of advancement for the institution, said the nearly 8-acre park will be open to the public. Construction began in early 2021 and is expected to be completed in late spring. A dedication will take place thereafter.
Krutsch said the institution’s mission is to educate and train a diverse group of highly skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals; create support structures for health and research; and providing healthy living environments to improve the lives of others. The Wellness Park component of the project stems from this mission.
âIt is evident from the shortages of healthcare professionals, from doctors to therapists to nurses, that we probably cannot train enough healthcare professionals to meet the demands,â Krutsch said. “So one of the ways to help affect the overall health of Arkansas and the region is to work on the other end of the spectrum trying to help people become healthier.”
Krutsch said that the Celebration Garden part is meant to celebrate the life, especially the lives of those who have donated their bodies to the institution after their deaths for the benefit of the education of its students, as well as those gifts that ‘they provided.
Steve Core, administrator for the city of Barling, said the park would serve as an attraction for Arkansas health education colleges by providing a space for students to relax. He also believes residents will use the park in the same way they now use Chaffee Crossing as a place for physical activities, such as walking and cycling.
Krutsch said that one of the hallmarks of Celebration Garden and Wellness Park is a small lake. A walking path will surround the lake and cross the park, totaling just over a quarter of a mile. The trail will connect to both the Fort Smith Trails and Greenway Master Plan and a campus trail system that it plans to develop further.
The park will also have a playground, an exercise equipment area for adults and a large pavilion furnished with audio and visual projection equipment that will be available for meetings and class activities in outdoors.
âWe want to do a lot of presentations on wellness and mindfulness, yoga, that sort of thing, and all of that will take place in the pavilion,â Krutsch said.
The pavilion will be named Degen Wellness Pavilion in honor of a $ 500,000 donation from the Degen Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Fort Smith, according to Krutsch. The park’s celebration garden and commemorative area will feature a maze at the request of another donor for the project.
Other features will include bathrooms that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a bicycle repair station and a pet watering station, according to Krutsch. Local architect Chasen Garrett designed the project, with builder Rick Mooney Construction based on the natural dam.
Krutsch said Teressa Brown, dean of the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education school of physiotherapy, and Jennifer Moore, dean of her occupational therapy school, were involved in the selection of equipment to ensure the park would be both compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and helpful. in teaching their students.
Moore said faculty at the School of Occupational Therapy will use the Celebration Garden and Wellness Park as a teaching tool. Students in the program discover the value and principles of inclusive design for things like venues and equipment within the program, which they will be able to learn by analyzing the park’s inclusive playground equipment, a she declared.
“Additionally, our occupational therapy students can observe and interact with children of all abilities as they play on the equipment, allowing them to see firsthand how the design of the equipment” levels the playing field. So that all children have the opportunity to play, “said Moore.” This teaching approach is much more valuable than reading material from a book or listening to a lecture. “
Moore said his program can also use the park as a space to hold meetings or classes outside or take breaks to relieve stress.
Barling has two city parks, according to Core. It also has Springhill Park, which is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.