Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: Jonathan Merryman
Danville, VA - With eight parks and countless outdoor recreational facilities, the city of Danville has made it a point to push people outdoors.
Whether it's a race or a summer kayaking camp, the trend seems to be changing. Danville was once known as the city of churches, but now some are calling it the city of parks.
The Danville Department of Parks and Rec is making a huge push to get people out of their homes and into their parks. Whether it's running, walking, swimming or skating, they say time spent outside is never a waste.
Danville Parks and Rec is offering community members new, different and exciting ways to get out of the house and on to their feet.
"People have the opportunity now to participate in activities every weekend, weekday afternoons, there's always something going on in Danville," said Karen Cross, the outdoor division director for Danville Parks and Rec.
For years Danville has suffered higher than average obesity rates, and Parks and Rec officials say they're looking to change that by offering programs never before seen in this traditionally stationary city.
"But we really saw big turnaround when we opened up the Riverwalk trail," said Cross.
Danville's exercise revolution began with the Riverwalk. From there, potential activities seemed endless.
"So our paddling trips, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, all of those things have picked up," said Cross.
Residents are grateful that the parks are plentiful and the playgrounds are packed.
"I think it's very important because they're not sitting in front of the TV and they're not on their computer, and they just need to be out in the fresh air," said Priscilla Gillie, a Danville resident whose grandchildren play in Ballou Park.
"They're doing a great job with all of these different programs. It's like a quality of life thing. So when your city has cool events for young people to do, it makes people stay here, it makes people want to come here," said Danville resident Scott Brooks.
"We hope that people will start a healthy lifestyle. But that this becomes a part of their everyday life," said Cross.