OUR OPINION: A new era of fitness opportunity for allIt’s a banner week in the history of the city, as it means Grand Forks is about to become a friendlier, more welcoming and more amenity-rich city for all.
By: Tom Dennis for the Herald, Grand Forks Herald
Public schools. Public libraries. Public parks
And now, public fitness and wellness centers:
This week marks not just the opening in Grand Forks of a big and impressive new building — Choice Health and Fitness.
It’s the dawn of a new era, because the short list of vital egalitarian institutions in town is about to go up by one.
That’s why the event feels so special. And it’s a big reason why supporters of the center feel so proud.
They have a right to be proud, as do all of the residents of Grand Forks.
For the 161,000-square-foot fitness center and the accompanying expansion/remodeling of the Altru Y Family Center have the potential to improve Grand Forks’ culture, not just its health.
It’ll do this by giving rich and poor alike the chance to improve health and fitness. And those factors are playing ever-more-important roles in helping people get ahead.
Credit writer Mickey Kaus with highlighting the notion of “civic equality” — those institutions where people from all walks of American life can meet and mix as equals.
Public schools are the most important. They’re a centuries-old commitment by taxpayers to making sure the sins of the fathers are not visited upon the children, at least in this key area.
If you come from a poor family; if you come from a broken home; if you don’t even have a home — it doesn’t matter: The public schools still will be open to you.
The opportunity is there; and if you make the most of it, you’ll be well on your way.
Libraries also have been great equalizers, places where generations of Americans have found the knowledge they need to succeed. Likewise, parks make sure that all Americans can experience the benefits of fresh-air recreation and the majesty of a sweeping view.
But as time has passed, Americans have realized that even those blessings are not enough. For awareness has grown of not only the role fitness plays in maintaining health, but also the roles that both traits play in building work and family success.
Fewer pensions are offered these days, meaning people will have to work well into their 60s and even 70s. It takes a sound body to do that.
Likewise, with fewer careers available on the factory floor, most good jobs now involve interacting with the public — and that means workers must maintain a professional appearance.
All of which have ramped up the importance of a sound body in addition to a sound mind.
That’s where Choice Health and Fitness come in. The state-of-the-art center is a project of the Grand Forks Park District. It’s as much a part of civic life as the baseball diamonds and hockey rinks the district traditionally has maintained.
Keeping the facility accessible to all won’t be easy; the district will have big monthly bills to pay. But it’s vital, especially because obesity tends to decrease as incomes rise; and that means poor people need access to fitness centers more than most.
Heartiest congratulations to the Grand Forks Park District, Choice Financial, Altru Health System and Grand Forks’ other visionaries who got this job done. It’s a banner week in the history of the city, as it means Grand Forks is about to become a friendlier, more welcoming and more amenity-rich city for all.
— Tom Dennis for the Herald