Community parks serve everyone regardless of their age, gender, race, or beliefs. They’re an integral part of a community and can even turn a broken neighborhood around. When Parks and Recreation departments improve local parks, they enhance the community as a whole.
Parks that are safe and accessible to all residents bring the community together. Strong communities raise strong families and look after each other when times get tough. In this article, we’ll look at the top five things that Parks and Rec departments can do to improve their local parks and communities.
1. Offer Group and Individual Fitness Activities
The adult obesity rate in the United States is a staggering 39.8%, according to the CDC. Heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes caused by obesity are the leading causes of preventable, premature deaths in American adults.
Local parks can do a lot to encourage physical fitness by creating and maintaining walking and biking paths, soccer fields, pools, circuit training stations, and more.
Many parks across the country offer group fitness classes. People who exercise with others benefit from group accountability and are less likely to skip workouts. Exercising with others may also encourage people to push themselves a little harder during each workout. Some corporations are even stepping up to sponsor outdoor exercise classes like yoga or dance exercise, offsetting the expense in exchange for a branding opportunity.
2. Provide a Safe Place for Kids to Play
Community parks that have fallen into disrepair should revamp their playground equipment. Childhood obesity rates are in the United States are high, about 18.5%, according to the CDC. The best way to combat childhood obesity is to provide safe opportunities for physical play.
Friendships are essential to children’s emotional and social development. Playing with peers teaches kids to compromise, navigate relationship challenges, and understand how other people feel.
Kids with friends have higher self-esteem and are better able to cope with stress and life changes. They also have lower rates of depression and anxiety and are less likely to misbehave. Kids need to feel like they belong. Public places to gather and meet peers make it easier for kids to find friends with similar interests.
3. Hold Group Events to Foster a Close Community
In an analysis of 148 studies involving over 300,000 participants, psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., found that social connections with others reduce a person’s chances of premature death by 50%. Conversely, loneliness and isolation increase a person’s chances of premature death at least as much as being obese.
Close communities provide support during good and bad times. Successes are sweeter when you have people to join in the celebration, and challenges are survivable when you have people to help carry you.
Regular face-to-face interactions and conversations are good for our mental health. When Parks and Rec departments provide spaces for community cookouts, movies in the park, and holiday celebrations, they make it easier for locals to find a place to belong.
4. Create Community Gardens
Community gardens give residents a place to learn about and try different types of produce that they may not have been exposed to otherwise. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 American adults get the recommended 2 cups of vegetables and 1½ cups of fruit a day. However, gardening encourages people to consume what they grow.
Gardening also improves community health by providing another opportunity for physical activity. Light gardening can burn about 330 calories in an hour. Gardening can even reduce stress and anxiety, which improves your overall health.
Communal gardens also foster relationships because anyone, aged 2 to 92, can pitch in. Gardens present a great opportunity for young people to develop relationships with older adults who may be more prone to loneliness than other age groups.
5. Upgrade Park Lighting
Parks provide a safe place for kids and adults to gather, especially when they have adequate lighting at night. When Parks and Rec departments use remote lighting controllers from AccessLink™ powered by OutdoorLink, they’ll benefit from convenient automation features. Instead of spending time to repair and reprogram lights, they’ll have more time to devote to other community improvement initiatives.
AccessLink™ powered by OutdoorLink keeps residents safe as the sun goes down. Each light has a GPS that turns it on and off automatically as the sun sets and rises. Kids will never find themselves playing basketball in the dark if parks use an AccessLink™ remote lighting controller.
Automated outdoor lighting can reduce energy costs because lights will only be on when they’re needed, and never when the sun is shining. The money that Parks and Rec departments save on lighting can go toward other community-improvement programs instead.
Well-lit parks also deter vandalism and illegal activity that would discourage community use of the park.
Could your local park could benefit from a remote lighting solution like AccessLink™ powered by OutdoorLink? Reach out to learn more about the many ways that automated lights can improve your park, which in turn strengthens your community.
Learn More About AccessLink™ powered by OutdoorLink:
Stop wasting time and money with outdated photocells and unreliable timers. AccessLink™ powered by OutdoorLink lets you remotely control your exterior lighting on your cell phone or computer. Visit our website or call us at (256) 885-9768 to learn more.