50 ways parks and recreation pay out every day

50 ways parks and recreationToday’s recreation and parks are not your momma’s playground program! They are multifaceted physical and socioeconomic systems that daily deliver the foundational needs and essential human services of our modern existence. It’s not just fun and games anymore!

So much of what constitutes the appeal and livability of our communities is our direct connection to our public spaces and our natural and cultural assets. Their facilities and features build a strong and resilient infrastructure. Their recreational opportunities bolster our wellness and life satisfaction. Together, our park and recreation systems contribute expansively to a healthy economy, environment and society in at least 50 tangible ways—here hyperlinked to corroborating research and authenticating documentation.

  1. facilitate physical activity and healthy lifestyles
  2. advance social equity and access
  3. preserve and sustain environmental quality
  4. connect people to nature for human health benefits
  5. facilitate positive youth and family development
  6. reduce carbon footprints and pollution
  7. nurture physical, mental, emotional therapy
  8. promote healthy food production and choices
  9. create popular public spaces through green infrastructure
  10. preserve wildlife habitat and connective corridors
  11. administer preventative treatment for drug abuse, and criminal and risky behaviors
  12. reduce stormwater management costs
  13. fortify tourism and economic development
  14. improve physical, cognitive, social and emotion functioning of people with special needs
  15. foster creative play
  16. mitigate urban blight and brownfields
  17. stimulate business viability and diversity
  18. reduce heat island effects and energy costs
  19. buffer extremes of flood and drought
  20. foster community engagement
  21. develop athletic skills and healthy competition
  22. preserve and enhance biodiversity
  23. facilitate and promote public-private partnerships
  24. strengthen motor and cognitive skills in young children
  25. build experiential learning, team cooperation and leadership
  26. rejuvenate mental clarity and alleviate stress and attention deficit disorders
  27. safeguard park visitors and recreation participants
  28. foster risk resilience and independent mobility skills in children
  29. enhance property values
  30. facilitate meaningful leisure experiences contributing to quality of life
  31. provide teen mentoring, workforce preparation, and vocational training
  32. boost student performance and educational attainment
  33. administer child nutrition and food distribution programs
  34. create multimodal transportation alternatives and reduce traffic congestion
  35. reduce healthcare costs
  36. rejuvenate employee productivity and stimulate creativity
  37. provide forums for public art, entertainment and expression
  38. expedite medical recovery and boost immune systems
  39. foster diversity and cross-cultural cooperation
  40. reduce crime and increase community safety
  41. enable access to economic and socio-cultural goods
  42. improve air quality
  43. promote and regenerate community resilience, cohesion, and vibrancy
  44. generate $140 billion in economic activity and support 1 million jobs
  45. preserve and interpret historical and cultural resources
  46. reduce taxes
  47. stimulate recreation-related equipment and supplies sales
  48. mitigate youth crime and deviant juvenile behaviors
  49. establish a sense of place and belonging
  50. serve as civic repositories of social capital and community wellbeing

(Please contribute additional ways, references and resources!)

Park and recreation systems are the attractive masterpieces of our most vibrant cities and communities. It’s there we connect nature and neighborhoods for our individual, social, environmental, and economic wellbeing. Investment in these diverse community assets always produces a high return—with profitable benefits for all.

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