There is a long-standing saying in the field of parks and recreation nationwide that the “benefits are endless.” The longer I am involved with providing parks and recreation services, the more I see the multiple benefits they provide to the community.
Parks and recreation services provide economic benefits to the community, such as attracting business relocation. Corporate CEOs say that quality of life (including parks and recreation opportunities) is the third most important factor in locating a new business. The National Association of Home Builders has found that 65% of home shoppers felt that parks would seriously influence them to move to a community. Private property values have been shown to increase if they are in proximity to a park.
Parks and recreation can provide personal health benefits. Creation of places for physical activity, such as parks, produces a 48% increase in the frequency of physical activity (Sherer, 2003). Strong evidence shows that when people have access to parks, they exercise more (Why America Needs More City parks & Open Space, Trust for Public Land, 2003). Additional examples of personal benefits that have been found to be correlated with parks and recreation include:
- Leisure opportunities for youth provide positive lifestyle choices and alternatives to self-destructive behavior.
- Relaxation, rest, and revitalization through leisure are essential to stress management in today's busy and demanding world.
- Parks and open spaces bring beauty to an area while giving people satisfaction and improving their quality of life.
- Meaningful leisure activity can be an essential source of self-esteem and positive self-image.
Social benefits can also be realized from parks and recreation activities, such as strengthening families and building a sense of community pride. Community special events—such as the recent Independence Day Celebration in Storey Park, with fireworks from our partners at Meridian Speedway; or Dairy Days events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce; or CableONE Movie Night in Settlers Park; or Christmas in Meridian later in the year—are all examples of special events that bring the community together and provide families opportunities to spend time together. According to an REI national survey of parents with children ages four to 14, 88% of parents believe that participating in outdoor activities strengthens family relationships. Other studies have shown that juvenile crime decreases when they have meaningful recreation opportunities.
Finally, parks and open spaces also provide environmental benefits to the community. Parks and pathways play a key role in preserving water and air quality, reducing congestion, and conserving wildlife habitat. For many people, their first fishing experience is in a park pond. People can learn about the environment firsthand in parks and take those lessons home with them.
Be happier. Build family relationships. Increase community pride. Reduce crime. Increase property values. Provide safe places to play. Meet friends. Relax. Play. Attract and retain businesses. Create memories. Breathe fresh air. Walk. Enjoy the outdoors. Take a class for fun.
These are some of the benefits provided by parks and recreation opportunities in this wonderful City of Meridian, Idaho—recently named by Family Circle Magazine as one of its Top Ten Towns for Families and will be featured in its upcoming August 2010 issue. Meridian is truly a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. I hope that you enjoy some of these benefits as much as we enjoy providing them.
Want to learn more about the benefits of parks and recreation?
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