A Kansas county asks: Can we restore public health by restoring our parks?

A male in Wyandotte County, Kansas can expect to live about seven fewer years than a male in neighboring Johnson County, Missouri.

A female in Wyandotte County can expect to live nearly six fewer years than her Johnson County counterpart.

About 21 percent of residents of Wyandotte County consider themselves to be in poor or fair health; fewer than one in 12 in Johnson County do so.

Parks may brighten up the looks of neighborhoods, but they can also help neighbors stay active and connected. Not all parks are equal, however.

Take a Saturday morning bike ride along the Kansas side of the state line and you’ll see plenty of people playing tennis, soccer and jogging in Johnson County.

Ride a bit further north to Wyandotte County, though, and it’s hard not to notice that outdoor recreation is a much rarer phenomenon.

On a map, the counties appear to have about the same amount of parks and recreational space.

But over several decades, Wyandotte County’s parks fell into a state of neglect and disrepair – to the point of being ignored by many residents.

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