Nothing is more relaxing to me than running. Clinical tests have proven that running is healthy because of its physical benefits such as losing weight and strengthening muscles. But running is just as popular for its mental benefits as well such as relaxation and reduction of anxiety.
For the past six years I’ve been an avid runner and used the track at Benjamin E. Mays High School for training and exercise. I enjoyed running on the track because of its location; Mays High School is just down the street from my home so I find it very convenient to have a regulation size track and field that’s open—or was open to the public in my own community.
The track and field at Mays High School is an integral part of the Cascade community. For decades many residents of Southwest Atlanta utilized the track and field for exercise and recreational activities.
Then, this past winter the unthinkable happened. A fencing company came in and built a fence around the track and field, barring all individuals from the premises. I couldn’t believe it. Then, a couple weeks after that, a construction company came in with bulldozers. I approached one of the contractors and questioned him on the reason behind the fence and the bulldozers and he kindly said that they were in the process of ripping up the sod to make way for artificial turf to be installed.
I initially thought it was a good idea. For all of those years I’d been using the track I thought the addition of artificial turf would be great. I never used the field personally, but there was plenty of times when I’d be running on the track and see a group of boys playing a friendly game of football, or a father tossing a Frisbee to his daughter, or a personal trainer instructing a class of a dozen people. On many occasions I’d see little kids, some as small as toddlers building sand castles in the long jump pit. In the fall I’ve even seen people flying kites on the field.
The track and field was a place where individuals and families could enjoy themselves. For me it was a beautiful sight to see a community engaging in healthy fun.
Summer has come and months have passed sense the fence first went up and the artificial turf is officially down. I’ll be the first to say that it looks beautiful, but now the community that one utilized the track and field for exercise is now forced to either go somewhere else or run around the parking lot to get a proper workout because the fence still remains in place.
As a runner I like the track because the synthetic rubber is easier to run on and softer than concrete which is better on the knees. I’m uncertain if the administration at Mays High School will decide open the track and field again for the members of the Cascade community. Hopefully some my fellow exercise enthusiasts in the area agree with me and we can collectively form a voice to petition to have the fence opened for the community.
I feel that the track and field serves the Cascade community in more ways than we know. In the African-American community 50% of men and 67% of women report they do not include exercise in their daily routines. The lack of exercise, along with genetic and obesity risk factors, may explain why the rate of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure in the African American community is so high. That’s why it is important to reopen the track and field so that we as a community can all strive to get healthier and live happier lives.