With the help of some students from Heritage Grove Middle School, the Plainfield Park District has decided to make its parks and facilities tobacco free.
The new ordinance will ban smoking from trails, playgrounds, sports fields, concession areas, parks and outdoor recreational facilities, including restrooms, according to a news release from the district.
“We’re mainly asking for people to stop. It will be more of an honor system to enforce it,” said Wendi Calabrese, director of administrative services for the district.
After a few concerned students in an after-school club, called Plainfield Reality Illinois, received a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health, they decided to take action.
Amrita Raghuraman, a community health educator with the Will County Health Department, worked with the students at Heritage Grove and their teacher, Kathy Gregory, on the steps necessary to make Plainfield air and soil cleaner.
The students gathered cigarette waste during a park cleanup.
The students and teachers also attended a park district board meeting and conducted a community survey, which showed an astonishing amount of support for the new smoking ban within the area.
“We really never planned on working on this until the students shared a presentation with the board regarding the benefits of going tobacco-free,” said Mary Kay Ludemann, administrative staff member of the Plainfield Fire Protection Board of Trustees.
The group presented its studies to the district commissioners in May, and the board decided to pass the ordinance in June. The tobacco ban includes all tobacco-smoking products, e-cigarettes and smokeless products such as chewing tobacco.
“The students of Plainfield Reality Illinois made the difference, and our parks will be healthier places because of their work,” Plainfield Park District Executive Director Carlo Capalbo said.