Local parks go well beyond just being places to enjoy nature. While this is an important service that they provide, local parks offer other essential services that many may not realize which is why they’re so crucial to our communities.
Mental Health Support
This year has shown everyone how important parks and maintained outdoor spaces are when it comes to mental health. Being stuck at home took a toll on the collective mental health of our country, but parks provided a safe outlet for people to connect with nature and get active. Being urged to stay away from others and indoor spaces left people with the wonderful opportunity to get outside. All year, people have opted to simply take walks around their neighborhoods or head to local parks to learn, explore, and get active. Without these resources, we would’ve seen an even deeper dive in the collective mental health of our country. Even during normal times, people can use parks to connect with nature and themselves and reduce stress.
Studies have shown that children learn better when they have access to parks. Whether it’s a local community park or a national park, kids have better focus, attention, and knowledge retention when they’re allowed to get outside. Research has also shown that when kids have access to untamed nature, they discover more. Community parks with simple walking trails through forested areas where they can explore and discover can benefit a child’s development.
Tourism is an essential part of many communities. Even the smallest dots on the map have something to offer out-of-towners. Parks can contribute to tourism dollars through sports, festivals, and other gatherings that draw out-of-town visitors. By having usable, maintained, public outdoor spaces, communities can benefit from increased revenue through tourism. It’s likely that visitors will spend money at other area businesses when they’re in town to visit a park – for whatever the reason might be.
Perhaps one of the most immediately recognizable essential services that parks provide is a space for outdoor recreation. Local parks offer a safe, maintained space for community members of all ages to get outside and get active. Whether going for a simple stroll or engaging in sport, area parks are crucial in recreation. Many parks offer playgrounds, sports fields, walking trails, and more so that everyone can enjoy time outside.
Both community members and parks and recreation professionals can help to foster relationships with local leaders to promote and maintain local parks as they truly do offer essential services. To find out more about how you can get involved with your local parks, check out our resources and if you are a park maintenance professional looking for tips and tricks to strengthen your park maintenance routines, check out the Pennsylvania Park Maintenance Institute.