EDITOR'S NOTE: Lauren's essay is one of two third-place winners in this year's Rotary Club of Mahomet Young Writers Contest. Students at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High School were tasked with writing essays to convince a wealthy donor, who plans to build a new facility to benefit young people in Mahomet, of what type of facility to build.

"The Ball is in Your Court"

Dear donor,

I have lived in Mahomet for 11 of my 13 years, and every summer I wish for a swimming pool and recreational center. A local recreational center outfitted with a gym, basketball court, tennis court, pool, and track could strengthen our whole community. This center would provide more than just physical benefits for those living in Mahomet. It would provide social and economic opportunities for our community as well.

There are many physical benefits of having a local exercise facility. Regular exercise “...lowers blood pressure, delays the onset of diabetes, lowers heart disease rates, and overall increased longevity” (Sports Advisory 2016). Having a local facility dedicated to helping people exercise and work out could encourage more people to participate in healthy behaviors. Overall, this could help to create a healthier community in Mahomet. According to a study done by the data firm Dstillerty, people who lived about 3.7 miles from a local gym were more likely to work out five days a week. On the other hand, on average, people who lived further away from these facilities did not make the journey as often (Sports Advisory 2018). A local recreational center would encourage people to venture outside of their homes to exercise with their friends and neighbors.

In addition, there are several social benefits of a community recreational center. By providing wholesome and healthy activities, community recreational centers provide opportunities to people of all ages to learn good habits and gain valuable skills like teamwork. Studies performed by the University of Cambridge discovered that “...for every minute of physical activity a mother engages in, her child is more likely to perform 10 percent more of that activity” (Sports Advisory 2016). This reinforces the idea that good habits can be established through activities provided by a local recreational center. As Mahomet is full of young families, it is important to instill good habits in young children in our community. Good habits like regular exercise can have a long-lasting positive impact on people’s lives. In studies, the National Recreation and Park Association discovered that teenagers that do not engage in recreational activities are about 27 percent more likely to be arrested, and about 49 percent more likely to use alcohol and other drugs (Sports Advisory 2016). The healthy activities and behaviors that would be encouraged by a recreational center in our district could help those numbers fall in Mahomet, creating a safer and more family-friendly environment.

Although a fully functioning recreational center would be expensive to build, it would greatly enhance the community of Mahomet. In an article from the Mahomet Citizen, the author Penny Weaver observed that “many village and area residents have long lobbied for the construction of a rec facility that includes a pool” (Weaver 2019). From this statement and personal conversations with family and friends, it seems clear that a recreation center would be popular in Mahomet. Many residents have also affirmed that they would be in favor of a pool, which would be included in this facility. A center like this one would also create new jobs that would need to be filled, and could even increase property values. Homes closer to a recreational facility tend to be worth more than those that are further away. For example, “In Philadelphia, parks and recreation centers have helped the city receive $18.1 million in tax revenues, spurred by increased property values” (Sports Advisory 2018). A local facility with these functions can and would boost our local economy.

A local recreational facility that could provide a pool, basketball court, tennis court, and track would be profitable to Mahomet. It would help to improve our local economy as well as provide many physical and social benefits. This type of center would be very popular and provide greater incentives for people to move to Mahomet. I love running, swimming, and playing sports, and I am not alone in this. At the junior high in the fall of 2019, we had over 120 students on the cross country team. The track team is even bigger. It is clear that there are a lot of active young people in our local community. We need a fun, engaging place to go unplug, be active, and escape the heat. Our community is small, but a recreational center would have a big impact. It would be expensive, but worth every penny. We need your help, so the ball is now in your court.

Sincerely,

Lauren Bednar

Works Cited

Penny Weaver Pweaver@mcitizen.com. "5th in a series: Mahomet parks and rec has grown tremendously, but department has limits." Mahomet Citizen, 18 Jul. 2019, https://www.mcitizen.com/news/th-in-a-series-mahomet-parks-and-rec-has-grown/article_d3e97016-8df7-11e9-b8d5-1ba787b8179e.html. Accessed 22 Jan. 2020.

Sports Advisory. "Community Center - The Benefits for Small Towns | SFA." SFA and SFM, 12 Feb. 2018, https://sportadvisory.com/community-center-benefits-small-town/. Accessed 22 Jan. 2020.

Sports Advisory. "Why a Recreation Center? | Sports Facilities Advisory." SFA and SFM, 15 Jul. 2016, https://sportadvisory.com/11-benefits-of-a-community-recreation-center/. Accessed 22 Jan. 2020.

Lauren Bednar is a 13-year-old girl in 8th grade at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High. In her free time, Lauren participates in her school’s cross-country program in the fall and runs track in the spring. She also takes piano and violin lessons weekly, and even plays the piano at church meetings. Lauren also dances at Twist and Shout, and looks forward to moving on to the high school next year. After high school, Lauren plans to study nursing at Brigham Young University. Finally, Lauren is the second of seven kids and looks forward to being a mom in the future.