Benefits of Parks in Your Community
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 for residents to play and relax in. Community parks provide a variety of benefits to the surrounding area. From a safe place for physical activity to elevated property values in the immediate vicinity, there are many ways for both residents and local government officials to benefit from parks.
For your community to reap the benefits of parks and recreation areas fully, these places must have attractive designs, accessible amenities and play areas for everyone. Learn how parks and playgrounds can be beneficial additions to your community.
What Is a Community Park?
Community parks serve large geographic areas, like a city rather than a neighborhood. They serve a broader purpose and accommodate a wide range of recreation needs based on the surrounding community. Community parks are meant to have many activities and amenities to keep visitors of all ages active and engaged for an entire day.
These parks may have nature trails, swimming pools, splash pads, basketball courts, tennis centers, volleyball courts, thematic playgrounds and more features. Community parks also commonly feature picnic areas and pavilions and other additional facilities like bathrooms, parking, indoor recreation space, event space and on-site park attendants.
Benefits of Community Parks
The benefits of parks make them irresistible to surrounding residents. In urban areas, community parks may be one of the only options for residents to enjoy nature and be active. In addition to the variety of amenities, community playgrounds and parks are beneficial in many other ways:
- Contribute to community identity
- Provide active and passive recreational opportunities
- Appeal to all ages
- Contribute to the health and wellness of a community
- Create valuable green space
Parks are beneficial to humans for many reasons, and they are also beneficial to native plants and animals. Especially in urban areas like cities, parks are an effective area to encourage native flora and fauna to grow. This will make the area more inviting and safe for wildlife to enjoy, as well.
Why Are Parks Important?
Parks and playgrounds can become the hearts of communities, meaning community planners should make these recreation areas high priorities. Parks are more than green spaces that beautify a community. Residents, kids and local governments all benefit from the creation of a local park or play space.
1. Promoting Community Wellness
Many Americans live sedentary lifestyles, especially today. Parks help provide places for community members to get outside and be active, encouraging a healthier lifestyle.
Studies have linked parks to increases in aerobic exercise. Local green spaces spurred 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 extend past encouraging better physical health — parks and recreation areas can also help improve mental health. Increasing green space nearby by only 10% led to a decrease in health complaints. Simply viewing nature-inspired scenery led to reports of less fear and anger and more considerable attention and peacefulness.
Communities need to promote their residents’ well-being. Creating recreation areas is one way to cater to the needs of both mind and body. Community members may use the park to walk their dog, play basketball, ride their bike or enjoy a picnic with friends. Regardless of how they choose to use the space, they’ll be able to benefit in their own way from the opportunity for physical, mental and social health that a park provides to the community.
2. Clearing the Air
In cities, air pollution from cars and industrial plants 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
With the internet’s prevalence, it’s become more common to go from work to home without changing up the routine. Parks give individuals a space for meeting their neighbors in person. Community parks can be spaces for kids and adults to gather and meet new people who enjoy similar activities. Picnic areas provide space for large gatherings like parties or reunions.
Thrilling playground equipment can further entice visitors and encourage parents to bring their kids multiple times. As parents visit a park more, it’s more likely they’ll meet more of their community members.
Those interactions then form the basis of community. Separate families and individuals can bond together with the intention to help their surrounding community and fellow community members. In a 2016 study, communities that dedicated more space to communal park areas had residents who reported higher community well-being levels.
4. Encouraging Activity in Kids
When kids get to play outside instead of indoors, it increases the positive impact of physical activity. Kids who spend time outside have:
- Better test scores
- Better cognitive function
- Fewer behavioral problems
- Fewer signs of ADHD
- Improved self-discipline
Getting kids to play has risen to such high levels of importance that doctors prescribe time outdoors for some patients as part of a push by the National Recreation and Park Association. Pediatricians have recognized the advantages of a park for their patients.
Childhood is a different holistic experience for every kid. Kids need hands-on learning opportunities outside of the classroom, and community playgrounds can be an enriching space for kids to learn and have fun.
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 while they slide and climb through a variety of challenging structures, like those from the XGEN® line.
When planning play areas for kids, remember to account for 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 thrills designed just for them.
5. Improving Property Values
Homeowners view parks as a desirable amenity. Because of this, property values increase the closer homes are to a recreational space. With increased property values comes the potential to bring in more property taxes, giving your city funds to further enrich the area.
A study in Washington State reported that homes within half a mile from a natural area or park had values 8%-20% higher than those not near green spaces. That benefit decreases to 0% when homes are further than half a mile from the park, so proximity is key.
Prices people will pay for homes closer to parks also increase. People are willing to spend 10% more for an inner-city home located within a quarter-mile of a park. 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
The environmental benefits of parks are equally as important as the health benefits. 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. Conserving wildlife in parks helps to sustain nature, even in the most populated, urban areas.
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 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 helps compensate for the habitat these creatures lose during the construction of buildings and towns.
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. When residents see native birds and animals up close, they 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 kids 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.
It can be difficult to keep kids entertained. Luckily, community parks can be a fun, cost-effective way to keep kids occupied. Parks, especially those with innovative playgrounds, give parents a break from the usual routine, and kids get the chance to release their energy. Regardless of the number of kids in a family, a trip to the park is easy on a family budget.
Free fun fits into any income. While amusement parks and other attractions are exciting ways to get out of the house, they often come at a high price. These options may be off the table for large families looking for a day trip on a budget. Having recreational areas in neighborhoods and local parks for kids ensures all families have the opportunity for a great time outside.
10. Reducing Crime
North Carolina State University and Clemson University conducted a study that turned an abandoned railroad right of way into an elevated greenway called The 606. The study found that the greenway helped reduce crime in adjacent neighborhoods. The trail installation in Chicago reduced property crime in lower-income areas next to the greenbelt. 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, 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 more than in rural areas.
Higher temperatures increase the use of utilities for indoor comfort. Parks can create their own spaces of cooling to mitigate the effects of urban heat islands. 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. 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.
Cities can construct more green spaces to help ease residents’ discomfort from the heat concrete surfaces and buildings absorb.
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 helps build social interactions between kids. With multiple options for play, just about every kid can find something to do. Additionally, many activities, like see-saws, require a partner. Without realizing it, kids will pair up for play.
Community playgrounds offer a better chance for kids with autism to socially engage with other kids than 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 time for social interaction at the school playground. Having a park in their neighborhood allows them to meet other kids outside their peer group and learn how to interact with each other.
While kids see the same peers at school every day, visitors at a local playground or park may change regularly. With new friends to make and people to meet, kids visiting their community playgrounds can continue to build their social skills outside of 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. Parks bring families together for fun activities and significant events. Families may gather at a park for a birthday party or graduation celebration because these locations offer activities for everyone without the high cost of indoor venues.
Many families gather with extended relatives for large family reunions. Parks that offer picnic areas or pavilions that can be rented out are popular choices for events like family reunions. Several generations of family members can enjoy all the benefits of parks for the community.
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 with 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 park users’ increased feelings of safety.
Parks are free 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. 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 is just one of the benefits of community parks in America that helps create social equality in communities. 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. Kids will benefit from playground equipment with features that stimulate the following senses:
- 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 knowledge 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.
Explore Playground Options for Your Community With Miracle® Recreation
Make your community park an innovative space to carry the area into the future. Kids want thrilling outdoor equipment that offers unique ways to play. Extreme generation has exciting options to fight for their attention. We have playgrounds that satisfy even the pickiest of thrill-seeking kids.
While we bring the thrill back into the playground, we still keep a constant eye on quality and durability. Our playgrounds will last for years and have a high-quality construction that will keep kids coming back for more fun and excitement. As we always have, our products have a design to thrill.
Since 1927, Miracle Recreation has been on the cutting edge, designing playgrounds that stretch the imagination and excite kids who play on them. If you find a competitor with a lower 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.