Children developing their skills on a playground at a local Pennsylvania park

Parks and Recreation Supports Human Development

In previous blogs, we’ve demonstrated the many ways parks and recreation programs help promote health and wellness and fosters social cohesiveness. But there are so many meaningful ways these programs enrich the lives of community members. In the following article, we’ll explore a few of the significant ways parks and recreation support human development for people of all ages and abilities.

Learn and Strengthen Social Skills

You may not think of them as centers for learning, but playgrounds, hiking trails, and even park benches provide lots of opportunities for children and adults to learn social skills.
More than just a place for children to run, jump and climb, playgrounds also provide a safe space for children to interact with each other and learn interpersonal skills. Unlike sports which are grounded in rules and can be competitive, free play on playgrounds allows outgoing and shy children of all abilities to interact without having to worry about winning or losing. Playground features such as merry-go-rounds and see-saws encourage cooperation and team building.

Adults of all ages and abilities can strengthen their social skills when walking trails or taking a break on a bench. These spots encourage adults to greet neighbors with a simple “Hello” or strike up a friendly conversation. Though these opportunities seem small on the surface, they lead to a growing sense of community and human connection.

Learn and Strengthen Physical Skills

Adults and children alike need dedicated time for physical activity each day for optimal health and wellness. Unfortunately, most recess and lunch breaks do not provide ample time for such activity. After-school activities and programs at local parks provide children and youth of all ages with opportunities to stay active each day and develop necessary physical and motor skills. Whereas a leisurely walk, hike, or jog before or after work, gives adults the chance to exercise, clear their minds, feel less exhausted and shake off stress which in turn helps them maintain their physical, mental, and emotional wellness.

Learn and Strengthen Emotional and Intellectual Development

Interacting with nature and spending time in green spaces is beneficial for children and adults in multiple ways. The brain just like the body needs exercise and stimulation in order to develop and stay healthy. Parks and recreation programs give children and adults contact with nature and let them explore and experience a multitude of sights, sounds, and textures which help them develop and strengthen their emotional and intellectual connections to their environments and may spur creativity, too.

Parks and recreation do more than provide the perfect spot for a picnic or a pick-up game of Wiffle ball. These invaluable agencies also provide the programs, activities, and environments that lead to positive physical, emotional and mental development for children and adults of all ages and abilities.