POINT AU ROCHE - Through research, it has been proven parks and other green-spaces can provide a positive impact in ones life. Dr. Christopher Lemieux, hopes people will utilize Point au Roche State Park for that reason.
Lemieux, who received his doctorate in Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo in Canada, participated in the Canada - U.S. Fulbright Program, a "bi-national program of educational exchange."
"I applied for [the Fulbright program] because I do work on parks and protected areas and climate change," Lemieux explained. "It basically provides an opportunity for someone like myself to go study and learn in the U.S. and just learn about different systems that are going on in the U.S."
While studying at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh last year during the exchange, Lemieux rented out a cottage on Point au Roche Road.
"I was literally right beside the state park," he explained. "I didn't know anybody in Plattsburgh so I was spending quite a bit of time hiking."
During his stay in Point au Roche, Lemieux received an e-mail from the Fulbright program about a new Eco-Leadership grant that was being offered.
"It provided an opportunity for people who were awarded a Fulbright and were on an exchange either in Canada or the U.S. ... to essentially apply for this Eco-Leadership grant," he explained. "Basically it's a way that people like myself who are living in another are and another community to basically give back to the community."
Since Lemieux was spending so much time at the park, he made contact with the Friends of Point au Roche State Park in October to see if they may be interested in partnering up for the grant.
The friends and Lemieux learned in the beginning of November they were one of only eight groups to receive a $3,700 grant, out of nearly 50 who applied.
From there the friends and Lemieux decided to have the Healthy Parks, Healthy People Eco-Fair, which will be held at the Point au Roche beach May 8.
"We just wanted to get the message out there the role that protective areas play in a community," Lemieux explained. "They provide spaces for people to participate in healthy activities."
"You can go hiking, you can ride your bike in that park. You can go kayaking," he added. "It's a rather large park so it also protects a significant amount of bio-diversity. It just plays an important role in the community and I guess that's not appreciated enough."
To make the eco-fair a success, Mary Simmers, president of the Friends of Point au Roche State Park, is hoping various organizations will step forward to provide environmental awareness to the community.
Currently the friends have sent out invitations to groups such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, Plattsburgh Green Committee, Lake Champlain Basin Program, and Department of Environmental Conservation.
"The idea [is] to try to engage as much of the community as possible in ecological aspects of the world," Simmers said.
Along with demonstrations from the participating organizations, she is also hoping to have boat safety, bike safety, and fire safety demos for children and adults.
"[We] hope to incorporate anything that really has to do with healthy aspects at the park and for people," added Simmers. "A healthy park can relate to healthy people."
The friends are still looking for more organizations to sign up for the eco-fair, which will be held May 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are hoping for groups to bring a display which educates attendees about what the group offers, as well as a demonstration. Nonprofit groups will have a table free of charge, while nonprofits are asked to pay $15 to cover expenses.
For more information, contact Simmers at 1-443-465-4914 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Alice Sample at 561-4213 or at email@example.com.
"We just want to get the message out there ... this park exists and it's here for you to use and there's just a lot of associated benefits of having parks in your community," said Lemieux.