Under normal circumstances, my April message to the Whitehall community would be chock-full of activities and programs to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather in our parks and other recreational facilities.
But we're all far from normal at this point.
Instead, here we are, in the middle of a stay-at-home order because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that has us practicing social distancing and taking other special precautions to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.
Yet, although in-person programming has been canceled and our playgrounds and sports courts have been closed, the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Department still is working behind the scenes (mostly from our homes) to help residents discover new activities to enjoy, both during the stay-at-home order and for later this summer when we can make up for some of our lost time together.
Of course, one way to fight cabin fever is to visit one of Whitehall's five parks to enjoy an essential activity, such as walking, hiking, running or biking.
But should you be looking for new ways to break up the day-to-day monotony, the parks and recreation department has launched a new Weekly Challenge.
Each week, we'll post a game board (for example, tic-tac-toe or bingo), and each day at 11 a.m., a new activity from that game board will be posted to Facebook at facebook.com/cityofwhitehall. Activities from the challenge range from fitness to arts and crafts, and from learning something new about nature to taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness. We encourage residents to take photos of activities to post on social media with game boards at the end of each week.
Of course, while participating in the Weekly Challenge or any essential recreational activity, please continue your efforts to help flatten the curve.
Remember to refrain from using parks or trails if you are exhibiting symptoms of illness and that all social-distancing guidelines (maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet) and the ban on group gatherings still apply, meaning you should avoid unnecessary interactions with anyone with whom you do not live.
Finally, be prepared for limited access to public restrooms, garbage/recycle cans and water fountains.
As you adjust to the stay-at-home order and other facets of the coronavirus pandemic, keep in mind that staying active, eating well and keeping in touch digitally are important to staying healthy both physically and mentally.
If you need assistance, remember that we're all in this together. The city is responding to requests for assistance, including helping to connect residents with food banks, financial relief and other assistance programs. Go to whitehall-oh.us or call 614-817-3131 to make a request.
Stay up to date on changes to services and other city information by subscribing to Whitehall E-Updates at whitehall-oh.us or following the city on social media.
Shannon Sorrell is director of the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Department.