John Ewald Park, located on the corner of Duke and S. Jordan Street in Alexandria, has seen better days. While its basketball court and soccer field get plenty of use by local residents, the empty lot where two tennis courts once stood has been abandoned for almost two decades. That is all about to change.
A year ago, T.C. Williams senior Jonas Neihardt presented the City Council with a plan to create a parkour park. Parkour is a physical and mental discipline that involves traversing and adapting to obstacles in the environment using a variety of movements such as running, climbing, vaulting, jumping, swinging and even flipping. One benefit of a park designed for Parkour is that it can be used by athletes of all ages and skill levels.
Neihardt says parkour has helped him grow physically and emotionally and he hopes to help others experience this growth in confidence too. His objective is to create a space where Alexandrians can exercise in a creative and fun way, especially youth who haven’t yet found the right sport for them.
Young people today are too often transfixed by their video screens, which leads to a sedentary lifestyle now and potential health problems in the future. Jonas hopes that this park will get kids and adults alike off the couch to try exercising in a whole new way and to change how they view physical activity. The parkour equipment installation would be the first stage in restoring John Ewald Park. The plan includes moving the playground to the abandoned lot, removing the abandoned pool house, and constructing an adult workout area and walking path.
The Alexandria Park and Recreation Commissionunanimously approved the project plan in November 2018, and the city has allocated funds to demolish the derelict pool house this summer. As with many park projects, the city tasked Neihardt with raising money to pay for the new parkour equipment. His goal is $80,000 to fully fund the project and begin construction by the end of summer 2019.
ACT for Alexandria will receive donations for the parkour park through a Field of Interest Fund. If you have questions about the specifics of the park and how to support the project, contact Jonas at (703) 785-1067 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.