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Head to the park this July

What: Local parks offer a wealth of options for those looking to get active in their communities. With special parks for dogs, skateboarders, and art lovers, many parks and recreation departments are catering to residents’ diverse interests. Communities in turn reap benefits, such as better health, cleaner air and water, and increased home values. During July, help support local parks and recreation programs during Park and Recreation Month.

Background: The National Recreation and Park Association first started Park and Recreation Month in 1985, and it has been celebrated each July since. The month recognizes the importance of local parks and recreation departments, which foster a sense of community and keep residents healthy and happy. This year’s theme is “Rock Your Park!” and encourages leaders within parks and recreation departments as well as local citizens to support exciting events to bring communities together.

Story Pitch: This event provides a great opportunity for local parks and recreation departments, as well as groups and organizations that use their public spaces. Departments can focus on how area parks and recreation programs make communities more livable. They can also address funding issues or new development plans. Groups like fitness clubs, sports organizations, and children’s programs that often meet at nearby parks can use the month to help preserve and protect these spaces. Well-maintained public areas also play an important role in managing development, and urban planning organizations can bring awareness of how parks help mitigate traffic problems and enhance residents’ enjoyment. Health organizations can discuss why parks are great for keeping fit, and how to sign up for recreation programs to get more exercise.

Story Hook: Local parks offer important direct benefits to residents, including spaces to socialize and exercise. The benefit of parks can also be indirect, with a major positive effect on local economies. Living near well-maintained parks has been found to significantly boost property values in major U.S. cities, especially important in today’s weakened housing market. How are local groups keeping parks clean and beautiful? What kind of effort is required to revitalize a neglected park? Keep the following in mind when you create your pitch:

  • Has park use and recreation program participation increased with the economic downturn? How is this affecting maintenance?
  • Where does funding for parks come from? How much is private?
  • What are the environmental benefits of parks?
  • Is exercising with a recreation program more beneficial than going at it alone?
  • How are parks and recreation departments responding to modern concerns like childhood obesity and an increasingly older population?

Tips: Provide the contact information for a representative from a parks and recreation department to speak on the importance of public parks and programs, as well as answer questions about maintenance and funding. Someone who helped revitalize a local park is also a good contact who can talk about the positive impact parks have on communities.

Resources:

American Society of Landscape Architects
(888) 999-2752
info(at)asla.org
www.asla.org

National Recreation and Park Association
(800) 626-6772
www.nrpa.org

Neighborhood Parks Council
(415) 621-3260
council(at)sfnpc.org
www.sfnpc.org

The Trust for Public Land
(415) 495-4014
info(at)tpl.org
www.tpl.org

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
Event Dates & History Today from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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