PLAINFIELD, NJ — A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for Union County’s first inclusive LGBTQ+ affirming park space located within Plainfield’s Cedar Brook Park. The new park builds on the county’s ongoing series of yoga classes for all ages, women’s wellbeing workshops, and other county programs and facilities that provide a welcoming, restorative community environment for residents and visitors.
By reaching out to LGBTQ individuals, the new park supports the Commissioner Board’s goals for diversity and inclusion in County parks and throughout Union County, and it recognizes the positive effect on public health and wellness.
“Incorporating opportunities to encourage diversity and inclusion in our everyday lives is essential,” said County Commissioner Vice Chair Rebecca Williams, liaison to the LGBTQ Ad Hoc Committee. “We are happy that this will be a space for all members of the Union County family to meditate, congregate and enjoy year round, and we look forward to the completion of this project.”
“We know that fostering a sense of belonging and connectedness increases the quality of life for individuals. This new park space has been intentionally conceived and thoughtfully designed to create an affirming and safe environment for LGBTQ+ people and others who support equity and inclusion, and strive to normalize acceptance,” said County Commissioner Chairman Alexander Mirabella.
Studies reported by The Trevor Project, SAGE, GLAAD, GLSEN and other leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations show that lack of physical and social activity opportunities contributes to the health disparities across LGBTQ+ individuals. LGBTQ+ people are at elevated risk for poor mental and physical health compared with straight/cisgender peers. Because this risk is related to social stigma, discrimination and the harmful ways LGBTQ+ people are treated, and not being LGBTQ in itself, increased acceptance and affirmation can reduce health risks. All individuals that identify as LGBTQ+ deserve access to spaces that positively and emphatically affirm their LGBTQ+ identity.
A special initiative of Chairman Mirabella, the new park space is slated to open in October, just in time for LGBTQ History Month and will be located in Cedar Brook Park north of Randolph Road, across from the Women’s History Icon trail and the historical Shakespeare Garden.
Features within the park will include:
- A walking trail to be lined with historical placards;
- An inclusive playground with intergenerational attractions, with sensory friendly and ADA compliant elements including a variety of expression swings, traditional playground equipment and activity panels centered around auditory and musical expression
- The first meditation maze in Union County, one of at least two planned spaces designed for reflection and meditation;
- A wildflower garden along the brook;
- An outdoor stage for performances;
- A resource kiosk with information on programs and services available.
The Commissioner Board established the Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs to provide a platform for leadership and collaboration to support equality, and to serve as a catalyst for advocacy, awareness and action on current and emerging issues that impact the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals.
For the full article, please read Tap Into Plainfield here.