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The summer of 2020 is predicted to be the hottest ever recorded. Meanwhile, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge nationwide, city officials are closing public beaches and pools and limiting the capacity of cooling centers. This is putting even more pressure on public parks, which were already in high demand as one of the few places where people can escape the confines of home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that close-to-home parks are crucial to a community’s quality of life. During this crisis, people have turned to their parks like never before—for fresh air, exercise, meditation, solace, and a much-needed break from the stresses of a quickly changing world.

For nearly half a century, the Trust for Public Land has pioneered a method of collaborating with communities to create parks that lead to greater health, resilience, and equity. Through it all, we have seen that the best parks center arts and culture in their design and that when done well, the process of creating a park can be as transformational for the neighborhood as the park itself.

As families count down to the first day of school, one thing is for certain: the 2020-2021 school year will be unlike any other in our collective lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has put educators and school administrators between a rock and a hard place: bring kids back to the classroom, where experts say that all will be at high risk of virus transmission, or continue with distance learning, which experts agree compromises educational outcomes and accelerates inequality.

Public park and trail systems are a valuable component of healthy communities. The Trust for Public Land conducted a study of the Metroparks Toledo, and found that it produces significant economic benefits for the local community—generating tens of millions of dollars in economic benefits each year.

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