With an abundance of parks, trails and outdoor spaces, the Chagrin Valley offers many opportunities to get involved in nature.
According to Jessica Allen, a board member at Chagrin Valley Recreation Center, and Kelly Clark, owner of Kelly’s Working Well Farm and founder of Chagrin Valley School, both in Chagrin Falls, the area lends itself to outdoor activities.
“It’s an area where nature is more accessible,” Clark said. “I grew up here, right next to South Chagrin Reservation – and even here where we are on the farm, the reservation is very close by. It’s a great mixture of living opportunities and nature. For me, it’s very influential.”
Allen added, “Families today are very aware of the role of play and being outdoors and the value it brings to their child. There are also a lot of outdoor spaces in Chagrin Valley. ... It’s great to have space like that.”
The two organizations are based on outdoor activities.
At Chagrin Valley Recreation Center, individuals can enjoy swimming pools, tennis courts and a gaga pit. Additionally, the center also offers Red Cross instructional swim lessons, tennis lessons, a weekly special family event and also offers specialty camps. Allen said members can be engaged as much as they want.
Kelly’s Working Well Farm, as it shares a campus with Chagrin Valley School, has many programs targeted to children. Along with camp opportunities, children can spend time outside as well as interact with farm animals like chickens, goats, rabbits and sheep.
The valley’s natural surroundings lend to being active outside, the professionals said.
“It makes sense for the natural surroundings,” Clark stated.
Allen added, “We have such beautiful summers here and there is so much nature to explore. In general, Clevelanders and Midwesterners, we like to connect with other people. We thrive because of that. It’s the perfect area and weather combination. Unlike what you might see in larger cities where you might not have as much access to green space, it’s something we value in the valley.”
Clark added it helps that the valley has a good mixture of nature and urban amenities.
“It’s a very accessible community as a lot of families come from surrounding communities,” she said. “We can walk into town and go to the popcorn shop with students or go to the store. But then we’re also right here in nature.”
As the valley develops into the future, the professionals said they believe it will continue to be a hot spot for outdoor recreation.
“It’s a beautiful area and that kind of lends itself,” Clark noted. “People respect that a little bit. There are a lot of communities that have prioritized development at the cost of natural green space. We’re fortunate that it hasn’t happened to such an extent here in the valley. I do think that people are beginning to value nature more because they’re realizing its importance.”
As families get busier and busier, Allen said she hopes they’ll continue to spend time outside.
“Families are busier and some of the activities that families enjoyed in the past in the summer months, they don’t have time for it much anymore,” she explained. “We hope very much that these opportunities continue to thrive as they have. Here at the center, we are always adjusting our schedules and offerings to meet families where they are. But, we hope outdoor (activities) will always have a place.”