How many times have you walked by a statue in a Schaumburg Park District park and never noticed it?
Now, it’s a Pokéstop. And people are flocking to District Parks while playing the latest craze in video gaming.
In the name of Pokémon Go research, two staff members and a tech-savvy intern spent a few hours on-the-go to determine just how many Pokéstops, gyms and Pokémon are around the Schaumburg Park District.
“My favorite part of the day was being out and about in the parks hunting for Pokémon,” said Communications Intern Caitlin Riedy. “There’s this element of surprise and anticipation.”
A major benefit of Pokémon Go—the app is bringing more people to the parks, encouraging them to interact with nature as they find creatures popping up behind bushes, on benches, in ball fields and other landmarks. Pokémon Go rewards are based on distances covered, which also promotes a physical fitness benefit of the app. All Pokéstops are at outdoor public locations.
“You get so much exercise because you because you don’t realize how much you’re walking,” said District Communications Coordinator Justin Sienkiewicz. “You’re playing the game and exploring areas of the parks you didn’t even know existed, just to get the next Pokémon.”
A fun spot to search for Pokémon is Volkening Lake, 900 W. Schaumburg Road, where Contant High School Social Studies Teacher Samantha Serrano recently was using Pokémon Go to teach students about the use of GPS.
“As someone who teaches geography, this is a hard app to pass up,” Serrano said. “This is an actual example of how to use geography in real life. It doesn’t get better than this.”
Spring Valley Nature Center, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, is home to dozens of Pokéstops, where players find treasures such as Pokéballs, Pokémon eggs and other virtual goodies. Annalisa Kaderabek and her friends Tatiana and Kuva Jovancic were at the Nature Center looking for bugs, rodents and other Pokémon critters.
“Do you think there’s some up there?” Kaderabek, 12, of Schaumburg, asked, pointing to the silo viewing tower outside the Nature Center at 1111 E. Schaumburg Road. “Wow. I’ve found so much here today.”
For older players, Pokémon Go offers a feeling of nostalgia.
“There’s tons of Pidgies out here,” said Nestor Ascenci, 20, of Streamwood, who was using the app before soccer practice at Olympic Park. “It’s pretty cool seeing so many people who have the app. We’ve noticed that many of the parks are Pokéstops.”
To Kasia Jovancic, Tatiana and Kuva's mom, the app could be an entertaining and healthy tool as long as children are aware of their surroundings and watch where they're going.
"It brings them together," she said. "It's much better than being home sitting in front of the computer the computer."
For more information, visit www.parkfun.com.