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Posted on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Hikone housing community welcomes new fitness trail

By Lisa Carolin

Residents of the Hikone community in southeast Ann Arbor have a new healthy addition to their neighborhood. This morning was the grand opening of a new, 10-station fitness trail.

Community Action Network staff members along with members of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, aided by Hikone's youth, installed the trail during two Saturdays in May and June.

"I like it," said 10-year-old resident Suzie Gibson, who likes doing the leg stretches and push-ups best.

10-year-old Angelica Johnson also likes the push-up station. Her sister Laquita Johnson, 11, said, "I like the balance beam."

Their brother Adonius Johnson, 12, said, "I like to work out, especially my leg muscles and abs."

Stations on the fitness trail include a balance walk, calf stretch, hamstring and quad stretches, sit-ups, leg raises, leg stretches and push-ups.

"They helped install this equipment," said Reginald Dalton, director of HIkone's community center. "It's theirs. We used the stations as part of our summer camp program. If they didn't participate, they couldn't go swimming or on field trips."

At this morning's grand opening, Dalton and a group of children who live in the Hikone community, a public-housing development for families, demonstrated all of the fitness stations. The stations are located along the perimeter of the neighborhood with the bucolic Mary Beth Doyle Park in the background.

"Hikone families can't afford to join an expensive gym, and transportation is often not reliable," said Joan Daughty, executive director of the Community Action Network. "Now residents of all ages only have to step outside their door to get exercise."

The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor donated $7,500 for the project, according to Len Stenger, president of the club. His club contributed $5,000 and the Rotary District contributed Rotary International funds of $2,500.

The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor invited local nonprofits including the Community Action Network to apply for the grant, and Doughty's proposal was selected.

"This particular project met the criteria of 'helping kids succeed,' which governs many of our efforts," said Stenger. "The trail, in addition to just being available for casual use, provides a venue for part of the programs for the Hikone Community Center. It gives the residents easy access to fitness, addressing an overwhelming need to stay healthy."

"Our Hikone kids, and particularly our teens, are very interested in working out and sports," said Doughty. "We can take them to the YMCA if we arrange it ahead of time, but this takes a lot of coordination, transportation and staff time. At the same time, we're aware of the obesity statistics nationwide and among low-income populations. This seemed like a really good match."

"We don't get a lot of things out here," said 11-year-old Antonio Brann. "We just had the basketball court, and now we can work out on the fitness trail too."

According to Doughty, the basketball court was built as a result of a resident's request to the Jenny Jones talk show, which paid for it to be built.

Resident Melissa Ollila, who has two grown sons and a 5-year-old grandson, is pleased with the easy access to the fitness trail.

"It's more motivation since it's right here, and it encourages more outdoor play," said Ollila.

"It means getting fit for any age," said resident Betty Jones. "A lot of us can't go to the gym. You can go to this anytime you want to. You just have to be willing to go."

Hikone is operated by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission and consists of 29 townhouses occupied by families including about 75 kids. The Community Action Network coordinates programs for community members ranging from academic support and enrichment programs to recreational activities, work readiness skills, food distributions, eviction prevention services and community building.



Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

Very nice of the contributors for this equipment. Kudos to the families that helped with the installation.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

I am happy to see these options for residents of the Hikone community. Nearby choices for exercise increase the likelihood of it taking place. Another nearby option (though not as nearby as out your back door) would be the County Farm Park. The entrance off Medford Rd. is about 1 mile away, through residential neighborhoods once you cross Packard. There are even more exercise stations there.