Benefits of Parks in Your Community(Last Updated On: May 10, 2021)
Create a space for community members to congregate safely by adding a park. By providing a safe place for kids to play and parents to bring their little ones, cities can enjoy more beautiful areas surrounding the parks. Residents get a safe place for physical activity in addition to elevated property values in the immediate vicinity. For your community to reap the benefits of parks and recreation areas fully, these places must have attractive designs and play areas for everyone.
Read the full article or jump to a specific section:
- Why Are Parks Important?
- 1. Promoting Community Wellness
- 2. Clearing the Air
- 3. Providing Connection Space
- 4. Encouraging Activity in Kids
- 5. Improving Property Values
- 6. Conserving Wild Areas
- 7. Creating Safe Gathering Places
- 8. Including Everyone in Play
- 9. Giving Families Free Activity
- 10. Reducing Crime
- 11. Lowering Temperatures
- 12. Encouraging Social Skills in Kids
- 13. Offering Family Bonding Sites
- 14. Creating Social Equality
- 15. Enhancing Kids’ Multisensory Experiences
Why Are Parks Important?
Parks serve as the heart of their communities. As such, these recreation areas should be a high priority for community planners. The importance of parks and recreation goes beyond adding green space to beautify the community. Residents, kids and the local government all benefit from having a nearby park or play space.
1. Promoting Community Wellness
Americans have a problem with spending too much time indoors and sedentary. Parks help solve both of these problems by providing places for community members to get outside and be active.
Studies have linked the presence of an attractive park to increases in aerobic exercise. Having a green space nearby resulted in a 25.6% increase in people getting active at least three times a week. Incorporating outreach with a new recreation area led to 48.4% in exercise with a subsequent rise in aerobic capacity of 5.1%.
The wellness benefits go beyond just encouraging better mental health. Increasing green space near people by just 10% led to a decrease in health complaints. Simply viewing savannah-like settings led to study participants reporting less fear and anger and more considerable attention and peacefulness.
Communities need to promote the wellbeing of their residents. Creating recreation areas is one way to cater to the needs of both mind and body.
2. Clearing the Air
In cities, air pollution from cars and industry can reach dangerous levels for the residents. Planting trees in recreation areas can combat this problem.
Each acre of tree cover can remove 80 pounds of pollution from the air. Across the United States, this adds up to an estimated 75,000 tons of pollution removed from the air, which provides the national economy a $500 million benefit.
To get the most significant benefit from these green spaces, cities should reduce the use of maintenance equipment that contributes further to air pollution.
In addition to removing pollution, trees and green spaces also use carbon dioxide (CO2) to create food, taking it out of the atmosphere and helping to reduce climate change. Each acre of trees removes 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide each year. An acre of trees stores 40 tons of CO2 while the same area of soil holds 32 tons of this gas.
Greenery’s contribution to lowering air pollution and fighting climate change is only one of the reasons behind the importance of parks and recreation in cities, though this effect benefits people around the world.
3. Providing Connection Space
Teenagers are not the only group of people who isolate themselves. With the internet, people rarely have to deviate from a path of going to work and returning home. Parks give neighbors a place to meet each other in person.
Enticing people to a park with thrilling playground equipment gets parents to bring their kids multiple times. The more often parents come to a park, the higher the likelihood they will meet an increasing number of their neighbors.
When people interact with each other, they create friendships that form the basis of community. People who were once individuals and separate families bond together into a collective with the aims of helping their neighbors and their area. In a 2016 study, communities that dedicated more land to parks had residents who reported higher levels of community wellbeing.
4. Encouraging Activity in Kids
It’s one thing to have children run around inside a gym. However, when kids get outside, the positive effects of physical activity increase. Kids who spend time outside have better test scores, fewer behavior problems, fewer signs of ADHD, better cognitive functioning and improved self-discipline.
Getting kids to play has risen to such importance that doctors prescribe time outdoors for some of their patients as part of an initiative by the National Recreation and Park Association. Pediatricians long ago recognized the health benefits of a park in their young patients’ health.
How can you bring kids to a park? Build them playgrounds that excite them. Think thrilling slides and climbing nets. With the latest equipment, kids can play out their adventurous fantasies by sliding and climbing through a variety of challenging structures, like those from the XGEN® line.
When planning play areas for kids, don’t forget toddlers and preschoolers who may be too small to reach the equipment on playgrounds built for older children. Consider separate play areas to give these smaller kids their own thrills designed just for them.
5. Improving Property Values
Homeowners view parks as a desirable amenity. As such, property values increase the closer homes are to a recreational area. Higher property values lead to more property taxes, which can further enrich the community if the city uses these funds for additional features.
In another study in Washington State, homes within 0.5 miles from an open space or park had values 8% to 20% higher than those not near green spaces. The benefits of proximity to parks for home values decreased with distance to a 0% change in value only 0.5 miles from the park.
Prices people will pay for homes closer to parks also increase. For inner-city homes within a quarter-mile of a park, people will spend 10% more for the house. Greenbelts next to residential communities increase the prices people will pay for homes by 32%. Natural areas pay in real estate both for the homeowners and the local government.
6. Conserving Wild Areas
Public parks give developers the chance to plant indigenous flora and entice native fauna to the area. Residents get to see what plants grow naturally in the region while caretakers reap the benefits of needing to provide less care to plants adapted to the climate.
In Louisville, Kentucky, the city perceives the importance of parks and recreation areas as conservation areas. These parks serve as stopping places for migrating birds and safe spaces for wildlife in the city. The city had 4,000 acres in a floodplain it turned into natural space that would bring wildlife to the area.
Other cities can encourage migrating birds and other wildlife with watering containers and native plants the creatures eat. Making spaces for wildlife in recreational areas compensates somewhat for the habitat these creatures lost in the construction of human homes. But the animals are not the only ones who benefit from wildlife conserving parks.
With more wildlife in the parks, residents flock to these green areas to engage in animal spotting and bird watching. By seeing native birds and animals close-up, residents may become more likely to promote conservation and volunteer for nature preservation programs, especially if the park promotes such opportunities.
7. Creating Safe Gathering Places
Residents need to feel safe. If they don’t have anywhere to go without feeling in danger, they will remain in their homes. For communities where no one leaves their homes, residents do not get the benefits of outdoor activity or engaging with each other. Here, parks can help solve this problem by providing residents and their kids with a safe place to go.
Parents may feel afraid of letting their children play outside alone. However, in a survey of patrons and nearby residents of 48 parks across the country, the majority felt the parks were safe. Park use correlated directly with supervised programs at the facility more than security personnel on-site.
Parks give community members a safe location to gather and play. By having a safe place for their kids, parents may be more likely to let their children outside. As already noted, when kids engage in physical activity outside, they enjoy more significant benefits.
8. Including Everyone in Play
Inclusive playground equipment has a variety of challenges for all ages and abilities. Even those who use mobility devices can play with other kids on the structures. When you group play areas by type, kids can enjoy playing with others, regardless of ability.
Kids who engage with others of differing abilities from themselves increase their positive feelings for others. A study from the University of Nebraska Lincoln showed that preschool kids who interacted more frequently with kids with disabilities had a more positive attitude toward all people with disabilities.
Inclusive playgrounds in recreational areas provide the type of social interaction that can lead to kids growing up with more positive, inclusive feelings toward their peers with disabilities.
9. Giving Families Free Activity
Free is always the perfect price, especially for families looking for fun without breaking the bank. Installing recreational areas in neighborhoods offers residents a place to take their kids without spending too much.
Children are expensive, but just because parents have both kids and a budget does not mean the children cannot have fun. Parks, especially those with innovative playgrounds, give parents a break from the usual routine. Kids get the chance to release their energy, and family budgets don’t get strained, regardless of the number of kids a family has.
Free fun fits into any income. Having recreational areas in neighborhoods ensures all families can give their kids a great time outside.
10. Reducing Crime
A study conducted by North Carolina State University and Clemson University found turning an abandoned railroad right of way into an elevated greenway called The 606 reduced crime in adjacent neighborhoods. The trail installation in Chicago resulted in lower-income areas next to the greenbelt experiencing the most considerable crime reduction, mostly from property crime levels dropping. The renovation of the trail also came with increased police presence, better lighting and security cameras.
The researchers noted that building trails increased community foot traffic, which pushed crime out of the surrounding area. Building a park or recreation area on an abandoned site can do the same. However, like The 606 in Chicago, newly renovated parks or recreation areas must have attractive features to inspire pride from the community. When residents feel strongly about keeping their recreational area and use it frequently, they will help take care of it and increase a feeling of community.
11. Lowering Temperatures
In urban areas, cooling sites, like green spaces, will become more critical as temperatures rise. Cities have a unique problem with high temperatures. Buildings, roadways and cars add heat to the surrounding air. For example, temperatures such as sidewalks in a city can be 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the air. These hot surface temperatures dissipate at night, warming the surrounding air up to 22 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than non-urban areas.
Higher temperatures increase the use of utilities for indoor comfort. However, parks can mitigate the effects of urban heat islands by creating their own spaces of cooling. Combating urban heat islands could be as simple as transforming vacant lots into green spaces and recreational areas.
With climate change pushing temperatures higher in the summer, finding respite from the heat becomes even more critical. Parks have lower temperatures compared to the surrounding area. In fact, at night, a park may feel 13 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the streets nearby.
This cooler air seeps from the park into surrounding neighborhoods, helping residents to stay more comfortable, even on steamy summer nights. Larger parks and those with more trees have a greater cooling effect than small pocket parks without trees.
By constructing more green spaces, cities could ease residents’ discomfort from the heat stored by concrete surfaces and buildings.
12. Encouraging Social Skills in Kids
Playgrounds at parks do more than provide a structure for kids to jump, climb and slide on. The equipment also builds social interactions between kids, even the shyest and most socially awkward. With multiple options for play, just about every kid can find something to do. Additionally, many activities, like see-saws, require a partner. Without even realizing it, kids will pair up for play.
In kids with autism, a playground offers a better chance for them to engage socially with other kids than in an informal game of pickup football or basketball. Since playgrounds do not have a competitive nature, everyone wins.
With recess at schools averaging 10 to 35 minutes a day, kids may not have enough social interaction at the school playground. Having a park in their neighborhood lets them meet other kids outside their peer group and learn how to interact with each other.
At school, kids see the same groups every day. But in a neighborhood playground or park, those who visit may change regularly. With new friends to make and people to meet, kids visiting their local park can build their social skills in ways they cannot get at school.
13. Offering Family Bonding Sites
Because parks have opportunities for people of all ages to have fun, families can engage in activities together. Families that participate in recreational activities together report greater feelings of cohesiveness and happiness. In fact, having kids changes the types of recreation families participate in, shifting from a preference for hiking to visiting nature centers. A married couple without children may not be as inclined to visit a playground area of a park as a family with several kids will.
Parks bring families together for fun activities and significant events. Families may gather at a park for a birthday party or graduation celebration as a location that offers activities for everyone without the high cost of indoor venues.
With so many ways that families can use parks together to build memories, such recreational areas can strengthen the bonds between family members.
14. Creating Social Equality
Social inequality presents a serious problem for city planners. However, parks could help the situation by providing residents of low-income neighborhoods safe spaces to visit. People already feel safe in parks. In the study of people’s perceptions of park safety, the 48 parks were mostly in low-income neighborhoods. Minorities felt safer in the parks by a sizable percentage, especially in certain situations such as during daylight or when the park had a crowd.
Encouraging all groups to use parks means encouraging people from every income level to take advantage of the amenities. Offering free programs may entice people to visit the park if they otherwise wouldn’t. Supervised programs also correlated to higher feelings of safety by park users.
Parks cost nothing to use and are open to all, regardless of income. Any kid can play on the playground and interact with others. Building parks in lower-income areas gives everyone in those areas a safe place to play and meet. And having a centerpiece such as a playground with action-packed structures will encourage parents to bring their kids to the park, raising visitation rates, which further enhances the feeling of safety.
Making parks safe places for all people helps communities throughout the country. Why not start with your area?
15. Enhancing Kids’ Multisensory Experiences
Kids of all ages and abilities can benefit from multisensory experiences. While they may have these events at school, they can also engage in play that appeals to multiple senses at the playground.
- Visual: Brightly colored playgrounds meet visual needs.
- Tactile: Varying textures on the playground can help kids who need tactile experiences.
- Vestibular: Vestibular functions appeal to movement and balance. Balance beams, bridges and slides all fulfill this need.
- Proprioceptive: Anything that requires knowing about the body can improve proprioceptive ability.
- Auditory: Creating different sounds with musical instruments integrated into the structure helps kids with auditory needs.
Regardless of ability, all kids can enjoy multisensory, inclusive playgrounds. Incorporating such structures into a park makes it a more inviting place for even more kids and their families in the community.
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Since 1927, Miracle® Recreation has been on the cutting edge, designing playgrounds that stretch the imagination and excite kids who play on them. We also take care of our customers through our Honest Price Promise. If you find a competitor with a lower price, we won’t just match their price. We will offer you a better option for the same or lower price. For more information about our products or to place an order, contact us today.