America has celebrated July as the official Park and Recreation Month since 1985. This year’s fun theme is “Get Wild!” While we live on the outskirts of a small town, we still have many great memories of our local parks. The beautiful recreational park in our area has been more than just a playground to the community.
I have so many wonderful memories of the park that I can’t even begin to count them all: catching crayfish in the creek, attending our family reunion almost every year since forever, the yearly park program, Old Fashioned Days, Lucky Duck Races, Father’s Day old car shows, Fishing for readers, bike rides and basketball, Fourth of July fireworks, snow sledding and the circus, walks and weddings, birthday parties, attending the “biggest little fair around” that goes on each year mid September, plus so many more events.
Perhaps some of the best memories are of riding the third oldest wooden carousal in the United States; both as a child and with my children. Once I even took Ginger Dog for a ride :). As you can tell, the community park is a huge part of our lives!
This July, the National Park and Recreation Association (NRPA) would like to invite you to Get Wild in your local parks! Let’s all pledge to take the time to show our children that the park can be fun! Getting to the park encourages a healthy active lifestyle and being outside will naturally inspire us to explore the natural surroundings that we so often take for granted. National Parks are a benefit to our health & wellness, the economy, our safety and our property values.
Six Interesting Parks and Recreation Facts:
In 2011, The Trust for Public Land reported 20,000 individual parks in 100 of the largest cities in the U.S. In addition, the 2011 City Parks Facts Report highlights that the total area covered by urban parkland in the U.S. exceeds one million acres, with parks ranging in size from the small 1.7-acre Post Office Square in Boston, MA to the enormous 490,125-acre Chugach State Park in Anchorage, AK. The use of urban parks is much greater than that of the national parks. The most visited park, New York’s Central Park, averages 35 million visits annually which is five times greater than the number of visits to the Grand Canyon.
It is estimated that U.S. urban park trees alone remove 75,000 tons of air pollutants annually. This translates into an economic benefit of $500
million each year.
- Studies have found that on average, children who live in greener environments weigh less than children (at the same age and same sex) who live in less green areas.
- Easy access to parks and open green spaces is reported to reduce mortality across one’s lifespan. The lack of access accounts for approximately half of poverty-related mortality. Recent research revealed that in least green areas, the poorest individuals die at two times the rate of the wealthiest individuals. The rate of death among the poorest is reduced to 1.43 times that of the wealthiest in the greenest areas.
- In 2010, there were approximately 455,000 local and state employees in parks and recreation according to the U.S. Census Survey of Public Employment and Payroll.
- The Kansas City Police Department reported that in 2008 crime decreased by 74 percent in Kansas City’s Kessler Park when 2.6 miles of Cliff Drive, a state scenic byway located in the park was turned car-free on weekends.
What are you waiting for? Go Get Wild!
Visit the NRPA website to view the calendar of local events that are happening in Parks across the country. If you cant’find one nearby, you can use the free official toolkit to help generate interest in the program and start your own local events.
To get started, Pledge to GET WILD in your local park and rec areas this July! “Get some activity, connect with nature, family, and friends, or discover new ways to have fun right inyour community! Heading out to any official park, recreation area/facility, hiking or biking trail, playground, swimming pool, or natural area counts!”
If you like geocaching, or have always wanted to try it, now is a great time to join the NRPA’s Get Wild Geocaching Contest. Get out and explore local park and recreation areas in your community in this real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game that uses GPS-enabled devices. Then, share your geocaching photos on Facebook to be automatically entered to win one of 5 Magellan GC eXplorist GPS Devices.
Now go explore!