Why Parks Are Important to Your Community
Local parks are an integral part of a happy, healthy city. There are so many benefits that come from having high quality city parks. In perhaps the most noticeable way, they provide beautiful green spaces and they usually have great programs for your community. However, there are many health benefits as well as other social goods underneath the surface to having wide, open space in your community.
Why Are Parks Important To The Community?
Parks and recreation is an important of any community's identity. So what is it that makes city parks important to the communities they exist in? Here are just a few of the many benefits that illustrate the importance of local parks in our communities.
The beautiful, lush greenery in our local parks not only looks beautiful, but also helps our community stay healthy – mentally and physically—especially in urban areas. Our urban parks provide benefits in public health, and several studies encourage this.
Research from Minding our Bodies suggests that stress is reduced, while mental health is boosted, when we are surrounded by natural settings. A 2008 study by the University of Illinois also found that children with ADHD performed better on attention tests, after taking a 20-minute walk in any one of the parks, then after taking the same walk in a downtown area or residential neighbourhood.
Numerous studies have found incredible public health benefits such as lower levels of stress, reduced blood pressure, improved mood and self-esteem, reduced risk of substance abuse, an increase in social interactions, increased levels of physical activity and more. It’s clear that the scientific literature supports the importance of parks from a health perspective.
By providing a space where health and fitness is encouraged for free, the physical wellbeing of a community should increase. By analyzing a number of studies, Active Living Research concluded that conveniently located city parks “have been found to be associated with vigorous physical activity… among both adults and children.” Parks are in their nature a space which promotes activity—including walking, running, and cycling—but citizens who live near parks are, of course, more likely to flock to them.
Other factors that boost physical activity within city parks are the presence of enjoyable scenery and frequency of seeing others exercise. A great positive feedback loop can happen here, once your community starts to embrace the importance of parks.
The importance of city parks can also be seen in the economic benefits they possess. Businesses near parks see a boost in traffic, as parks have many ways of attracting more people. This creates an increase in property values, business traffic and, in the end, the tax base of that community.
On a larger level, city parks provide an increase in GDP and provide labour income for a large base of workers. The NRPA also notes that physical fitness and urban parks and recreations majors boast some of the lowest unemployment rates after graduating.
Needless to say, there are important economic benefits to having accessible green spaces and parks in your community, as they increase income, property values, and positively influence public health in general. Parks are natural assets found already existing in nature, but their presence in your community enriches far beyond what could be initially conceived.
Did you know that one single acre of trees absorbs the carbon dioxide produced by driving a car 11,000 miles? According to the NRPA’s Power of Parks, this is exactly the case. Air pollution is an important health concern that leads to many unpleasant symptoms and long-term health issues. Having public parks in your community can provide immense health benefits, as the air and water in the area are positively affected.
Not only do urban parks function as an environmental purifier, city parks provide preservation and conservation of wildlife and plant life, further highlighting the importance of parks. Additionally, trees in urban areas can add shade, reducing the risk of heat-related illnesses. Green spaces are critical to creating communities that care about the environment around them.
Urban parks, at their core, directly affect the public health of the communities around them. According to the American Planning Association, crime rates in Macon, GA were reduced by 50% and were directly related to outdoor and acitivity in city parks in the community.
There are many factors as to how this can happen with the addition of public parks. Spending time in nature has numerous benefits we have already discussed; one such benefit is the relief to our mental health, leading to a reduction in aggression. Barren, open space is more prone to crime, with increased levels of fear, when compared to landscapes with greenery and open vistas. Parks, in contrast, provide a public, open space that is more visible to others in the community.
Finally, green spaces within city parks attract people and act as a gather place where neighbours form social ties that produce stronger, safer neighbourhoods. This building of community not only increases safety but also increases the sense of citizenship that people hold to their communities. In the end, isn’t that one of the most important things for our social nature?
The importance of city parks, as well as the presence of your parks and recreation department, is quite obvious for your community, and other communities out there.