When my kids were really, really young, I spent a lot of time trying to find activities for them. It was a time in my life when I was drowning in diapers and Barney, and other than the playgrounds, sometimes the highlight of our day was a trip to Target.

So when my kids finally reached the age to participate in recreational activities through the Riverside Parks and Recreation Department, I was ecstatic. Finally, there was something to do. Ever since then, we’ve been actively involved season after season in some form of recreational activity within the village.

Through the years, I’ve watched the children of Riverside grow and thrive because of our parks and our recreation programs. I feel a lot of pride when I see the joy that’s created by the interactions people have with each other. Its joy I hope makes an imprint on the memories of our children, because I truly believe that those are the memories that they’re one day going to need.

Kids experience joy when they play at a playground, participate in a class at the water tower, walk in a parade or cross a finish line. Later on, when they look back and remember, they’ll be able to see how committed the Riverside community was to their growth, development and happiness.

Memories aren’t just tools that are necessary for the occasional sentimental journey down memory lane. Good memories created through recreation keep our children’s expectations high. When they’re adults, their memories will remind them of what they had and what they want. Good memories will remind them of how they want the world to be. And hopefully in the future, when times get tough and the harsh realities of life arise, they won’t lament on what they don’t have. They’ll want to replicate the conditions they had in childhood so that they can build happy memories with their own children.

I want everyone to know the joy that many of our residents have experienced through recreation in Riverside. Please go online today (www.riverside.il.us) and take a look at the Parks and Recreation spring brochure. Reach out to old friends and new neighbors, and remind everyone of the outstanding programs we have to offer right here in Riverside.

Recreation builds lasting memories. They are memories that are passed along, touching each one of us, making us better, and brightening our future.

Susan Casey

Susan Casey is chairwoman of the Riverside Parks and Recreation Commission.