Through the internet, a whole world of products, services and information is just a finger swipe away. Yet your neighborhood is where your kids go to school, you take your walks, make friends, and, it turns out, may also influence your health and lifespan.
So the key to a better life may just be stepping out of your front door and taking advantage of what’s in your own backyard to find a whole network of resources to benefit you and your family’s mental and physical health.
Where to get active. Across the city, Lincoln Parks and Recreation has six recreation centers, as well as the Pioneers Park Nature Center, with low- to no-cost programs throughout the year for adults and children to stay active, get outside and meet new people. These include indoor and outdoor team sports, exercise classes, nature programs, adaptive programs for youth and adults with special needs, volunteer opportunities and more.
A recent addition is the Fit Together Preschool at “F” Street Community Center. This free program allows adults to focus on fitness, nutrition and parenting skills while their child enjoys three hours of preschool programming. Learn more at parks.lincoln.ne.gov.
Five Lincoln YMCA locations (ymcalincoln.org) also offer health and wellness programs, classes, events and great spaces to get fit and/or meet up with friends.
Where to ride. Lincoln is a bike-friendly city with hundreds of miles of bike trails. If you don’t own a bike, you can get a low-cost rental at 19 stations throughout downtown Lincoln and on UNL's East Campus. Find a map of the stations and details about how to use the system at bikelnk.bcycle.com/faqs.
Where to find support. Community centers around Lincoln facilitate various health and wellness programs, educational activities and, perhaps most importantly, support and friendly faces when they’re needed most. The Clyde Malone Community Center, the Asian Community and Cultural Center (lincolnasiancenter.org) and El Centro de las Americas (elcentrone.org) offer breastfeeding support, activities for all ages, multicultural programs and events, and more.
For additional breastfeeding and parent support, mothers can also reach out to MilkWorks (milkworks.org) or WIC through the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (health.lincoln.ne.gov).
Never too late. Lincoln’s Aging Partners is a great resource offering exercise classes, regular low-cost health clinics in multiple locations, a workout facility, assistance with transportation, staying at home, and a variety of other services for seniors.
What’s at school. Nearly 30 Community Learning Centers throughout the city supply great before- and after-school programs, as well as opportunities for neighborhood engagement and, in some cases, additional programs for adults and families. The Salvation Army of Lincoln has engaging programs for youth as well.
Have faith. Faith communities can be another great resource for mental and behavioral health support. In some cases, the church may also be a food bank location.
Eat healthy. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a full grocery market within walking or biking distance, various convenience stores are partnering with the UNL Extension’s Choose Healthy Here program to add or expand healthy choices. Check for one near you. The Food Fort bus and the Lincoln Fresh van take free, healthy food out into several Lincoln neighborhoods.
The health of your neighborhood. To find out how lifespans, services, food access and more compare across neighborhoods, check out the Place Matters 3.0 community mapping project maps at the Community Health Endowment of Lincoln’s website at chelincoln.org.
Start to build your network. These are just a few of the amazing resources available in the Lincoln area. Explore your neighborhood and the city to find the ones that fit you or your family the best. You may be surprised by the many low- to no-cost opportunities to stay more mentally and physically healthy, happy and engaged. Visit LNKTV Health at lnktvhealth.lincoln.ne.gov for a community wellness calendar. Check the “Health & the City” playlist on YouTube (@LNKTVhealth) for more on Lincoln’s resources.
Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (HealthyLincoln.org) and LNKTV Health (LNKTVhealth.lincoln.ne.gov) bring you Health and the City, a monthly column that examines relevant community health issues and spotlights the local organizations that impact community wellness. Direct questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.