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Ford graduates second cohort, unveils exercise stations at park

by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Cesar Ramos (on left) and Joey Mack demonstrate how to use one of the new exercise stations at Centennial Park Sunday.After nearly nine months of fundraising and planning, a local leadership group unveiled new exercise stations along the walking path at Centennial Park Sunday.

The finished product wouldn’t have been possible without the sweat hours from about 70 local volunteers the previous weekend.

“We had everyone from the Fiesta Court to city councilors to the fire chief,” said Lisa Ellsworth, a Woodburn city councilwoman who is also in the Woodburn Ford Institute Leadership Program’s second cohort, which was behind the installation project.

“It’s nice to see how this project united Woodburn, how everyone came together to accomplish this,” FILPby: LINDSAY KEEFER - Cesar Ramos (on left) and Joey Mack demonstrate how to use one of the new exercise stations at Centennial Park as fellow Ford participants remove the orange fencing around the exercise areas. participant César Ramos added. “It’s a Woodburn effort. No one did it alone, everybody had a hand in it.”

Ramos, a senior at Academy of International Studies, introduced the concept of the exercise stations to the cohort last year, having visited Beijing and seen a number of exercise stations in the park available to everyone. The ones in Woodburn are spread out along the park’s walking path, come with pictorial directions and are set apart with fresh bark chips.

“We wanted to do a project that would have an impact on the community,” Gevin Gregory, another participant, said. “We know a lot of people can’t afford a gym membership, so to offer a place where everyone can exercise is one of the things that impressed me about this project.”

Sunday’s unveiling coincided with the roughly 20-member FILP cohort’s graduation, after a year of gathering for leadership classes and fundraising for this project.

“They spend four weekends learning about leadership concepts and then using those tools to do the project,” Meredith Howell with Rural Development Initiative, a Ford partner, said. “And this group made it happen with a lot of community support.”

Not only did a number of individuals and groups help out with the installation, but also with the monetary side, since the project itself cost more than $10,000. Local groups that helped fund the project include Woodburn Together, Woodburn Rotary, Woodburn Kiwanis, French Prairie Kiwanis and local businesses and individuals. Additionally, the city of Woodburn has provided the space and has even been inspired by this project to try something similar in the future at Legion Park.

“The first place I went to ask for money was Woodburn Together, and they said the only money they had was specifically for drug and alcohol prevention,” Ellsworth said. “Well, studies show that among Latino and white girls, positive body image factors into helping women say no to drugs and alcohol.”

While there were many people involved in this project, Gregory pointed out that they couldn’t have done the project without the efforts of Ellsworth and her husband Mike Bergeron.

“Lisa is the heart of our team,” Gregory said. “She did a lot of the work and Mike did a ton of extra work without even being a part of our cohort. So I want to say a special thanks to them.”

There will be a third cohort of FILP in Woodburn next year.



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