Waverly Park – Off The Beaten Path in South Louisville

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By Walter Munday
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

Welcome to Waverly Park – one of Louisville’s best kept secrets.

Most commonly known for its “allegedly” haunted sanatorium, Waverly Park is 300 acres of beautiful woodlands, along with a nine-hole course named for Louisville golf legend Bobby Nichols, a 4.4 acre fishing lake, a fishing dock, hiking and mountain bike trails, a playground, bathrooms, dog park, shelters, grills, and serene picnic areas.

Waverly Park is located along Waverly Park Road off Arnoldtown Road and Clayton Terrace in the Waverly Hills neighborhood. This southwest neighborhood sits atop a hill along the east boundary of Dixie Highway at Pages Lane. Until the 1990’s, the area remained largely rural and heavily forested, but has since been developed with many upscale subdivisions, and is now one of the most affluent areas of Louisville’s South End.

Records indicate that the land was originally owned by Major Thomas H. Hays, a Hardin County native, lawyer and Civil War veteran. Hays purchased the land currently known as Waverly Hills in 1883. He had a school built on the land to educate his eight daughters and hired Lizzie Lee Harris as the teacher. Ms. Harris loved the writings of Sir Walter Scott.

Scott’s first novel, published in 1814, was titled Waverley, and subsequent novels became collectively known as the Waverley Novels.

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Ms. Harris loved the writings so much that she named the school Waverley School. Major Hays liked the name as well, and he named his entire property Waverley Hills. Somewhere along the line, the spelling was changed from “Waverley” to “Waverly”.

In response to a growing tuberculosis epidemic, the Anti-Tuberculosis Association was formed in Louisville in 1906 and headed up by Judge Robert Worth Bingham.

Two years later, the association had incorporated as the Louisville Tuberculosis Association and construction of a hospital began on land purchased from Major Hays. It was completed in 1910, and the Louisville Tuberculosis Association chose to retain the name “Waverly Hills.” For more than 50 years, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium operated as a Tuberculosis Hospital, and closed in 1961.

A letter dated February 16, 1963, from Charlie Vettiner, then Superintendent of the Jefferson County Playground and Recreation Board, to his fellow board members talked about the proposed new park at Waverly Hills as part of the new Chain of Rainbow Parks. Mr. Vettiner indicated the Jefferson County Board of Health already owned 273 acres there, and that the board should ask Fiscal Court to purchase an adjacent 29 acres known as the Joseph Kessler property being sold by Kessler’s heirs. The Louisville and Jefferson County Board of Health purchased the land for $13,500 on January 28, 1965, and it became known as Waverly Park.

Over the past few years, Waverly Park has had been the beneficiary of several upgrades including a new fishing dock, parking lot, pavilion, new spillway bridge, dog run and restrooms.

In addition, Waverly Park has received many upgrades most notably are the new sustainable trails!  The Kentucky Mountain Bike Association (KyMBA) continues to work closely with Louisville Parks and Recreation on a new bike trail segment to increase the current Mountain Bike Loop from a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail to roughly a 10- mile loop. KyMBA works closely with our Natural Areas’ Division to help maintain the park; specifically, the bike trails.

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Softball champ Madison McCoy batting 1.000 as mentor to community center youth

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By Walter Munday
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

Less than a month ago, Madison McCoy was celebrating with her Louisville Male High School Bulldog teammates after her team clinched the 2019 Girls Kentucky High School State Softball Championship.  Today, Madison is working in our Athletics Division helping coach/mentor participants in our Reds Rookie Success League, a program sponsored by the Reds Community Fund; the non-profit arm of the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds Community Fund strives to create programs that connects underserved children with the game of baseball and softball.  Locally, more than 250 kids participate at Petersburg and Wyandotte Parks during the summer.

But for Madison, spending time working with kids is nothing new.  She began attending Cyril Allgeier Community Center in the 3rd grade.  She was a regular, participating in almost all of the recreational programs offered at the center including: volleyball, basketball, summer camp and flag football.  She was even inducted as an inaugural member of the center’s Hall of Fame when she was just 14 years old.

Since high school, Madison has spent her summers working as a summer camp counselor at the center. But this year, she moved into a new position working specifically with the Red’s Rookie Success League, a program teaching kids ages 6-14 years-old, the fundamentals of baseball/softball including proper batting stance/swing, how to field the ball, throwing techniques, and proper base-running maneuvers.

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For Madison, it wasn’t that long ago when she was on the receiving end of such tutelage.  She began her career in softball on Diamond #4 just up the street at Germantown Little League off Poplar Level Road.  A quick learner, Madison was a member of the 2014 Germantown Girls Softball Team which was the first team from Germantown to reach the Babe Ruth World Series in Alachua, Florida.  Madison enrolled at Louisville Male High School, and instantly became a starter her freshman year.  Here’s a list of Madison’s high school career stats:

  • 1st in Hits, Hit by Pitch, Runs Scored and tied for 1st in Triples
  • 2nd in at Bats, Games Played and tied for Plate Appearances
  • 3rd in Total Bases & Extra Base Hits (tied)
  • 4th in Home Runs, RBIs and Stolen Bases

This was a magical year for Madison and her teammates.

Not only did they complete only the second perfect season in Kentucky state history, but the lady Bulldogs finished the season No. 1 in the final USA TODAY Sports/NFCA High School Super 25 poll.

For Madison, the lone senior on the team, she’s decided to put up the bat, glove and cleats, and focus her attention on her studies as she’ll enroll at the University of Kentucky this fall.  Madison plans to major in Pre-Med with dreams of becoming an Obstetrician.  In the meantime, she continues to work with our kids this summer helping them develop not only their athletic skills, but more importantly, character-based skills such as Cooperation, Integrity, Respect, Education, Determination and Spirit.

Aquatic Supervisor Puts In Overtime Outside the Pool

The Assasin

By Walter Munday
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

Parks and recreation is an integral part of American life. Parks and recreation amenities such as playgrounds, gyms, aquatic centers and features serve as places where people go to improve their physical and mental well being, have fun with family and friends, and/or enjoy nature first hand.

As a park and recreation agency, we are keenly aware that managing and maintaining such public treasures requires hiring not just qualified professionals, but passionate stewards who safeguard both our property and equally as important, the customer experience. One such employee is Keith Smith.

Keith is our Aquatic Supervisor. He originally joined that department in 1994, and stayed keith 1until 1998. He returned in 2007. Keith, housed at the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center, has initiated several aquatic programs and community events during his time with the department including the Senior Noddle Derby, Trunk-or-Treat, Movies on the Lawn, and the Zombie Park. His latest program is a Boot Camp/CrossFit Class, a land-based fitness program combining stretching, speed and agility and a workout-of-the-day. The class hosts approximately 10-15 people each session, and allows participants (at different fitness levels) to move at their own pace. The goal of the class is to give each participant a baseline for their workout experience enabling them one-on-one consultation from one of the fitness coaches.

When Keith is not working at Mary T, you might find him hanging around Davis Arena on Shepherdsville Road, home of Ohio Valley Wrestling. Around there, Keith goes by the name of “The Assassin”. Yes, in addition to being an Aquatic Supervisor, he is also a professional wrestler, and has been for 25 years.

“I grew up watching wrestling as a child, and I always wanted to be one,” he echoed when asked “why wrestling?”

keith 2Keith has trained with some of the legends of wrestling including: John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Dave Bautista and Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock” who some may not know was a very popular wrestler prior to his Hollywood debut. Keith acknowledges that his greatest wrestling match actually came against “The Rock”, who was going by the name of “Flex Kavanah” at the time in the United States Wrestling Association  (USWA). Keith retired from professional wrestling in 2017, but came out of retirement this year, and is back in the ring.

“It’s hard to stop doing something you’ve been doing for 25 years; especially if you love it,” Keith shared during our interview.

So, we’ve established that Keith is an Aquatic Supervisor, and a Professional Wrestler.
Add to the list that Keith is also a Pastor. He was called to the ministry 15 years ago.
Two years ago, Keith became the pastor of Coffee Creek Baptist Church in Paris Crossing, Indiana.

When asked how he balances three distinctly different careers, Keith said, “It’s not easy!
I preach four days a week at nursing homes and two days a week at my church in
additional to three days a week of wrestling and training and putting in 40-50 hours a week at Mary T.”

Keith, a Louisville native (Portland Neighborhood), has been married for 33 years. He and his wife have five (5) kids, 18 grandchildren, and one great-grand child.

Teresa Lee: living healthy and stronger after tobacco use

Teresa Lee

By WALTER MUNDAY
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

According to a study conducted by Health.com, living healthy and longer is as easy as making a few lifestyle changes.  The study identified four unhealthy behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—that can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.

One of the leading unhealthy behaviors is the use of tobacco. Tobacco is one of the most popular carcinogens affecting humans.  Tobacco has about 70 different chemicals in it which are known to cause cancer by damaging a human’s DNA.

The good news is, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults has been reduced by more than half since 1964, yet remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. It kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. For every person who dies this year from smoking, there are over 30 Americans who continue to live with a smoking-related disease.

The goal of the Striving to Live Healthier series is to monthly highlight an employee(s) who are engaging in some form of healthy activity, or has made adjustments to their diet to live healthier.  As part of our monthly series, Louisville Parks and Recreation is proud to highlight Teresa K. Lee, Historic Site Supervisor, Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing.

Teresa was a seasonal employee from 2013 to 2014, and joined the department full-time last May.

After 25 years of smoking, Teresa decided last fall that enough was enough.  After several attempts in the past, she was confident she wasn’t going to fail this time.  Her family had long been encouraging her to quit, and recently she began noticing that smoking was taking a toll on her health.  So, she set a goal, and has stuck with it so far

“I feel so much better.  I sleep better, run faster and longer.  I have more energy, and have noticed an improvement in my skin,” said Teresa.

In addition, Teresa also sites an improvement in her oral health by her dentist, being able to laugh without coughing, and improved allergies as additional reasons why she’s done smoking.  She’s less self-conscious about smelling like smoke all the time, and admits that food tastes better.

But quitting smoking is not easy.   Teresa offers the following tips:

  • Develop a list of reasons to Quit, and use that list to keep you motivated
  • Find a support network; people to keep you encouraged
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help – patch, gum, lozenges, etc…
  • Identify/substitute smoking with healthier habits (i.e. drinking more water, walking, running, etc…)
  • Stay active!
  • Be patient with yourself!
  • Don’t Give Up!

As Teresa alluded to earlier, quitting smoking is tough.  When you have a craving for a cigarette, it’s important that you have something to redirect your attention.  According to research, the urge to smoke dissipates normally within a few moments.  For Teresa, she began doing yoga and running.  In fact, right after deciding to quit smoking, she competed in the Rugged Maniac, a 5K Obstacle Course Race at Paoli Peaks.   Below is a picture of her finishing the race.

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“Quitting smoking has been one of the most challenging experiences in my life, but the benefits to me and my family have been more than worth it,” said Teresa.

“It’s the single biggest thing anyone can do to improve their health; you will not regret it.”

Healthy People of Parks

Louisville Parks & Rec: Improving Seniors’ Quality of Life

seniors 1By WALTER MUNDAY
Walter.Munday@louisvilleky.gov

Parks are designed to bring together people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.  Park and Recreation agencies are tasked with creating healthy communities by managing and in some cases enhancing an area’s physical environment.  On a daily basis, these agencies manage recreational facilities and landscapes, fabricated playscapes and protect natural areas to ensure its residents have a higher quality of life in which to live, work and play.

Equally as important, they also create and manage classes and programs which provide residents with opportunities to fully engage in healthy activities.  Such activities may include basketball, golf, pickleball, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, yoga, and Zumba, but there are so many others.

Many of those taking advantage of these classes are not just children and teens like in years past – they also include Baby Boomers, many of whom have reached the age of 65.  They’re registering for classes at an increased rate.   According to the 2017 Census estimates, there are 47 million seniors living in the U.S., and that population is expected to double by 2060.  People are living longer, and park and recreation agencies are adjusting to ensure its menu of programs and activities appeal to a broader age group.

SilverSneakers

One such class that has become very popular nationally over the last decade is SilverSneakers® by Tivity Health™.  This class is the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults and is available – at no cost – through many Medicare health plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans.  Louisville Parks and Recreation offers SilverSneakers® at six  locations.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit several of our sites which offer Silver Sneakers, and speak with some of the participants.   My first stop was at Beechmont Community Center where 92-year-old Ms. AB Roman is a member.  A “proud south-ender”, Ms. AB has been participating in the class for three years.  Her daughter thought it would be a good idea for her mother to get some exercise.  Ms. AB moves around on a walker these days, but don’t let that fool you.  She attends the class with her niece twice a week.

seniors 2On the day I visited the class, the regular instructor (Tonya Cowden) was on vacation, so another staff member (Deondre Wynn) led the class.  It was his first time teaching Silver Sneakers at this location.

“That young man is no Tonya; he didn’t work us out hard enough today,” said Ms. AB as she and her niece chuckled.

The participants at Beechmont take their Silver Sneakers class seriously.   At the same time, they have fun, and enjoy making new friends.  Ms. AB made it very clear that it wasn’t just about the exercise, but the opportunity to meet new people and make new “buddies”.

As mentioned earlier, Silver Sneakers is geared toward older adults.  During the class, participants use light weights, bands and fitness balls to help with increased muscle strength, range of motion and exercises to help improved their mobility.

“I can do it.  I always try to do as much as I can for myself,” as Ms. AB quickly shared with me when I tried to help her with her chair.

“Of course, I’m 92 years old, so I can’t do everything, but I sure try.”

Ms. AB lives in the Wilder Park neighborhood, and has been active with her neighborhood association for several decades.

“She’s such an inspiration to all of us here at the center,” said Tonya Cowden, the center supervisor who I spoke with later.  “We just love Ms. AB!”

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A few days later, I had the chance to travel over to the Highlands-Douglass neighborhood to check out the Douglass Community Center’s Silver Sneakers class.  Even with single-digit temps in the area, this was the largest class of those I visited with more than 30 participating.

seniors 4While taking some pictures of the class, I noticed one familiar face.  A gentleman who frequents a coffee shop I stop in every now and then.  His name is Jack Huber, a Silver Sneakers regular.

Following the class, I had a chance to meet with Mr. Jack, who has been participating in Silver Sneakers for 10 years.  At 83 years old, Mr. Jack, a retired AT&T/Bellsouth employee, walks three (3) miles a day – five (5) days a week.   In addition, he participates in yoga, and loves to dance.    I asked him what advice he’d offer to others regarding trying to stay fit, and his response was quick,

“Whatever you’re doing to stay active, never stop!”

Another Douglass participant – Kay Maurer – has been participating in Silver Sneakers for about 18 months.   A retired dietician with Baptist Floyd County Hospital, Ms. Kay recognizes that proper eating habits is important to maintaining good health, but was quick to point out that there’s more to it.   She joined the class following a surgery, and indicates that Silver Sneakers helps keep her arthritis at bay.  She said,

“Silver Sneakers keeps me going; it allows me to more mobile and move with much less pain.”

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Across town at the Berrytown Recreation Center, I met three delightful ladies; two of which are Silver Sneaker vets.   Ms. Rose (78) and Ms. Minnie (83) have been participating in Silver Sneakers for at least 10 years.  They were introduced to the program at the former Berrytown YMCA which once occupied the facility.   Ms. Rose, probably the youngest looking 78 year-old I’ve ever seen, is a regular at the class, and also utilizes the indoor walking track at the facility.

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“I love Silver Sneakers!   I also love the friendships and outings we take as a group,” said Ms. Rose.

“We’ve toured the Louisville Slugger Museum, Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, Locust Grove and several other places along with lunch.”

seniors 7Ms. Margaret (86) has been participating in Silver Sneakers for about two years.  She indicates that the class has helped strengthen her upper body, and has helped improved her mobility.

She pointed to her new Fitbit her kids purchased for her recently.  She and her family have started a family challenge to see who takes the most steps daily.

“I’m a little behind, but hey… I’m 86 years-old; I’m getting there!”

Aqua Fitness

Another physical exercise program that’s proving to improve the health of baby boomers and others is Aquatic Exercise Therapy Programs.   These programs are especially enticing to those with restricted mobility.  Exercising in water is proven to help with reducing arthritis and other joint pain.  The buoyance of the water helps to build strength without applying pressure to the joints.  An article published several years ago by Stacy Lynch points to research which recognizes the cognitive benefits of Aquatic Therapy in regard to the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Louisville Parks and Recreation offers several Aquatic Therapy and Fitness Classes at the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center including a Deep Water Exercise Class, Aquatics Bootcamp and Aqua Fitness classes.

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Lucinda Tapp is a regular participant at Mary T.  She visits the center about six days a week participating in Mary T.’s Aquatic Boot Camp, and Land Boot Camp. Ms. Lucinda, 78, was born right behind the center on Pennsylvania Avenue and remembers swimming in the old outdoor pool which closed around 1954. When asked about staying fit, she simply said,

“The more active you are, the better your blood flow and increased mobility,” said Ms. Lucinda. I tell myself daily, “Don’t give up!”

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While visiting the Mary T, I had the chance to meet and talk with two other center participants.

Al Meichler is a 92 year-old emigrate from Germany.  He and his wife Irmgard migrated to the US 65 years ago.  He has lived on Crescent Avenue since 1953.  His wife passed away in four years ago.  Soon, Mr. Al is moving to California to live with his son, but wanted to share with me how much he loves Louisville and Mary T.

Mr. Meichler has been a regular morning swimmer at Mary T for more than 25 years.  He also work out in the gym there.

Mr. Al shared his key to life which is, “Exercise and live life to the fullest!”

And the last person I spoke with was 79-year-old Versa Tucker who was participating in an Aqua Aerobics Class.  She’s been traveling from her Smoketown neighborhood to participate in the class for about six months. She points to her increased mobility as the reason why she returns week after week.

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Lessons learned from my visits to Beechmont, Douglass, Berrytown and Mary T. can be summarized easily; Exercise is good for the body as well as for the soul. The seniors I spoke with and the others I watched participate in the Silver Sneakers and Aquatic Fitness programs were smiling and full of enthusiasm. As our population continues to include escalating numbers in the post 65 age group, the importance of programs such as Silver Sneakers and Aquatic Fitness/Therapy grows.

As noted poet/philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

Exercising makes you feel better, and when you feel better and are filled with energy and enthusiasm, that helps to improve one’s quality of life which in turn, helps many live longer, more fulfilling lives.

For more information about Senior fitness programs, and other Senior activities offered by Louisville Parks and Recreation, contact BJ Levis at (502) 456-8148 or BJ.Levis@louisvilleky.gov or Jon Pilbean at (502) 964-5151 or Jon.Pilbean@louisvilleky.gov.

Douglass Community Center is Under New Leadership

IMG_5629 (2)By Walter Munday
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

Charles “Chaz” Bullard
Louisville Parks and Recreation is proud to announce Charles “Chaz” Bullard as the new Center Supervisor at Douglass Community Center located at 2305 Douglass Blvd.

Chaz has a long history with our department. He started working with Louisville Parks and Recreation as a teenager in 2007, working as a Summer Seasonal at Beechmont Community Center. Two years later, he became a full-time seasonal employee. In October 2010, Chaz was promoted to a Union Permanent Part-time employee, and the following year (2011), he was promoted to Recreation Assistant.

In 2015, Chaz transferred to Douglass Community Center, where he worked for a year followed by stints at Newburg and Parkhill Community Centers. Chaz moved out of Recreation Division, and accepted a position as a Park Worker 2 in Turf Maintenance Division in 2018 before being hired as the new Recreation Supervisor at Douglass at the beginning of this year.

“Recreation is special to me. It’s the job not the salary which drives me every day,” Chaz echoed during a recent interview.

He loves helping people. Whether it’s a kid having trouble, and just needs someone to listen, or a senior citizen curious about enrolling in one of our programs; he makes it his business to help, and make everyone feel welcome.

“As the new Supervisor at Douglass, my mission is to provide the leadership which enables the center to reach its full potential,” said Chaz. We have a supportive community, great participants, and an exceptional staff.”

Chaz sites the thriving senior program, and great community partners within
the Douglass and surrounding neighborhoods, but also acknowledges the need
to strengthen the center’s youth programming and participation.

Chaz is a certified Silver Sneaker and Archery Instructor, Boy/Cub Scoutmaster, and coaches several sports including: football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. In addition, Chaz is certified in First-Aid and CPR. Chaz studied Sports Administration at University of Louisville, and is married with three wonderful children.

If you haven’t had a chance to meet Chaz, I’d encourage you to stop by the Douglass Community Center to say hi, and learn what’s happening at the center.

Bobby Wilson – Rec Leader strives to set fitness example

By WALTER MUNDAY
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

Our nation’s public parks and recreation agencies are leaders in improving the overall health and wellness of the nation. We’re essential partners in combating some of the most complicated challenges our country faces – poor nutrition, hunger, obesity, and physical inactivity. But many park and recreational employees, like others nationally, struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

With only so many hours in a day, finding a consistent balance between work, life, exercise and a healthy diet can seem impossible. While many pledge changes, few follow through.

This year, Louisville Parks and Recreation will be highlighting employees who are striving to live healthier lives. Our goal is to monthly highlight an employee(s) who are engaging in some form of healthy activity, or has made adjustments to their diet to live healthier.

Our first employee we’d like to highlight is Bobby Wilson. Bobby is a Recreation Leader at Sun Valley Community Center. He joined the Louisville Parks and Recreation 22 years ago, and currently works at Sun Valley Community Center.

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In his role, Bobby teaches fitness classes, such as Silver Sneakers, Get Fit, and periodically a Teen Weightlifting Class. In addition, he leads a variety of recreational activities, and coaches several recreational basketball, flag football, baseball, and other sports teams. Bobby also is involved in department special events, after school programs, summer camps, arts and crafts, and other recreational programs and activities.

About 12 years ago, Bobby noticed he was spending way too much time sitting/lying on the couch at home. He quickly began noticing his waistline expanding. Bobby immediately began walking daily, which later progressed into running. Now, 12 years later and 70 pounds lighter, he continues to run – now up to three miles daily.

“Exercise is important to ensure that your body is strong and healthy enough to meet the challenges you set for it,” said Bobby.

He offers the following advice:
 Find an activity you love and then do it daily
 Watch Your Diet
 Cut BACK not OUT on your favorite foods
 Don’t Give Up!

The outcome, according to Bobby, “You’ll feel better, have more energy, and even add years to your life. Just start small, and make the effort… you’ll amaze yourself.”

“Just start small, and make the effort… you’ll amaze yourself.”

Healthy People of Parks