Barton County residents are invited to help clean up a neighborhood park on Sunday, Oct. 18, from 1-3 p.m. Volunteers can sign up to work at five area parks:
• Brit Spaugh Park in Great Bend; meet at the swimming pool parking lot
• Heizer Park at 8th and Heizer Street in Great Bend
• Veterans Memorial Park in Great Bend; meet at the north side parking area by the restrooms
• Ellinwood City Park; meet by the swimming pool
• Hoisington’s Bicentennial Park; meet in the parking lot south of the swimming pool
Organizers are asking volunteers to register online prior to the cleanups at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/parks.
Wearing face masks will be mandatory for participants, said Katelyn Sigler, public health educator at the Barton County Health Department. Other than that, there are no clothing or equipment requirements.
“They will be picking up trash in the park, along with cigarette butts,” Sigler said.
Several groups are on board with this effort, including the Barton County Health Department, United Way of Central Kansas, the Great Bend Recreation Commission and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Kansas Chronic Disease Reduction program.
The cleanup day offers several benefits, Sigler said.
“Working together to clean up a neighborhood park builds a sense of community, helps preserve and protect nature, and fosters a sense of pride in beautifying local surroundings,” Sigler stated in a news release. “We all understand the importance of caring for our environment so that we leave our planet better than we found it for future generations. Each one of us can make a difference. The same is true for our parks. Here is your opportunity to be a good park steward. Parks provide space for neighborhood residents and their children to safely play and enjoy the amazing space our community has given us.”
Recently, paper masks have joined the litter found in the community, Sigler said.
Another item that will be targeted during the cleanup is cigarette butts .
Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, she said. Discarded cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are toxic and hazardous to the environment. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. Small children and animals are at risk of swallowing, choking, or burning themselves with discarded butts and poisoning themselves with the drug nicotine. Tobacco waste makes parks and playgrounds look dirty and uninviting.
“Let’s work as a community unit to make our parks a safe and healthy place for our youth to play,” Sigler said.