To the Readers' Forum:
It has come out in a recent article that residents of Chautauqua County are among the unhealthiest in the state. Many feel the problem lies in Jamestown's population of immobile senior citizens, while a recent Letter to the Editor expressed the bad health habits of the young mothers in Jamestown.
I feel as though the problem goes back to the original idea that we are not outdoorsy enough in Chautauqua County.
What makes Jamestown unique is that it is only 30 minutes away from Allegany State Park, the largest park in the state, and yet the majority of the population has never been there.
I am amazed by the number of people in our area who haven't been to Allegany. I have introduced the park to the majority of my friends for the very first time. Those that had been to the park were only there because of the annual company picnic, and had never ventured beyond the picnic area.
First timers are always amazed just by the sheer size of the park. Allegany is 65,000 acres, large enough to fit the Island of Manhattan into it four and a half times (one of my Jamestown friends actually tried to tell me that Central Park was bigger that Allegany). Aside from the sheer size, Allegany is full of year-round outdoor recreational opportunities.
Today I live a very active lifestyle. I attribute my healthy lifestyle to the family day trips we used to take to Allegany and other outdoor destinations in our area. Today I still visit the park whenever I get the chance.
The reality is that every city has a population of seniors and every city deals with welfare bums and their bad health habits. The difference is our city's culture. At Allegany I have ran into people and families from all over the world. Mostly I run into daytripers from Buffalo and Pennsylvania, but I am yet to meet somebody else from Chautauqua County.
I truly believe that Chautauqua's health problem is a result of the average person's ability to not take advantage of the outdoor opportunities that they are given. Families will never be healthy if they don't have fun.
The once a year vacations out of state can be great when time and funds permit, but in our planning we must not neglect the opportunity for the weekend day trip. It is the weekend day trips that will bring health back to our community.