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New benches in GR promote wellness, socializing

Seven new benches have been installed throughout Grand Rapids, making outdoor spaces more accommodating.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — As you walk through the Creston neighborhood of Grand Rapids, you’ll notice some new seating areas. Seven benches were recently installed along Plainfield Avenue as part of an ongoing initiative to promote wellness, even for those with limited mobility.

“As people walk, which we encourage them to do because it's good for their health, if they need a little break, they will find these beautiful benches to sit on,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “If you can't do anything else, get out and walk. But it's more than just for your body. We know that it's good for your emotional health, your mental health, and it provides you an opportunity to connect with neighbors.

"I think that's really important, too. So many people have felt isolated and disconnected from other people, and this provides an opportunity for them to get reconnected with one another.”

 he benches, which were strategically placed in certain areas of the North Quarter Pathways, were purchased and installed thanks to a grant of $16,055 from AARP.

“That initially was for five benches, but by working with different departments in the city as well as different organizations, we were able to pull together and squeeze out two more benches from that grant and end up with seven. So there really is a lot of power in collaboration,” Jacqueline Brayman, project manager for North End Wellness Coalition, said. 

“In order to be healthy, we need to have a lot of knowledge about what it means and what it takes to be healthy, we need to be motivated to be healthy, we need incentives to be healthy, and we need support to be healthy. That's a lot, and to put all of that together, it takes a community.”

The community, in this case, involves the North End Wellness Coalition, the city of Grand Rapids, the North Quarter Corridor Improvement Authority and others. According to a release from the North End Wellness Coalition, the grant from AARP is the first to be awarded in West Michigan.

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