Community Spotlight: Grace Wakulchik

Lindsay Smith, Marketing & Public Relations Manager

The president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital shares her thoughts on how access to the outdoors in Summit Metro Parks benefits children and families in Summit County.

Grace Wakulchik is just the third person to hold the title of president and CEO at Akron Children’s Hospital. What began as a nursing career transformed into teaching and administrative roles that brought her to Akron Children’s Hospital in 1992. From there, she held leadership development and administrative positions including chief nursing officer and chief operating officer before the board appointed her as CEO when long-time leader Bill Considine retired.

When it comes to spending time outdoors, Wakulchik said it’s an incredible tool for improving the wellbeing of kids and families. “Spending time outdoors as a family is so important for children’s mental and physical health. Especially as more families juggle how much is enough screen time, getting kids connected to the great outdoors is more important than ever,” she shared. “Research indicates that time spent enjoying nature can reduce stress levels, elevate moods, improve alertness and energy and even improve sleep. I especially love that Summit Metro Parks has programs like the Fall Hiking Spree and Spree for All, encouraging families to get out often and take advantage of our beautiful parks.”

When asked if she has a favorite Metro Park, Wakulchik said, “Picking a favorite Metro Park is like trying to select your favorite child! There are so many unique and fun attributes about each and every park.” She added that as a past Master Gardener, “I enjoy hiking and trying to identify all the wildflowers, trees, shrubs, butterflies and birds. I used to volunteer at the phenology garden at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm.”

Wakulchik feels the park district benefits the people of Summit County in many important ways. “From the pristine preservation and management of 14,000 acres to the sledding, ice skating, swimming, hiking and biking opportunities, Summit Metro Parks protects and promotes our most treasured outdoor spaces for generations to come. And, it’s so easily accessible, all right here in our own back yard.”

This profile was written prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and today more than ever, we are immensely grateful to the first-class medical providers who serve Northeast Ohio.

For more great stories like this, check out Green Islands Magazine, a bi-monthly publication from Summit Metro Parks. Summit County residents can sign up to receive the publication at home free of charge.

Summit Metro Parks manages 15,000 acres, 16 parks, three nature centers and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at www.summitmetroparks.org.