October 27, 2014
The 2014 National Recreation and Park Association Congress was held two weeks ago in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three day conference featured more than 200 educational sessions and workshops. The NRPA’s Exhibit Hall offered a chance for attendees to connect with multiple parks and recreation professionals from across the nation. It was the perfect opportunity for NCRPA, as well as professionals, students and university faculty from North Carolina to attend this national event.
During the conference I had the opportunity to learn about NRPA’s Parks Build Community Project. The project is a national initiative demonstrating the transformative value of parks on the health and vitality of communities across America. This past year NRPA partnered with Mecklenburg Country Park and Recreation Department to expand Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. The objective was improving the nine-acre space by increasing access to the park and creating more recreation opportunities for community members at the park. The results have been positive, as residents report finding that the developing has built a sense of community pride and positive community identity. The additions of the park included: children’s play equipment, five fitness stations, new pavement for the half-mile walking trail, shelters, and updates to their basketball court, community garden and open playing fields.
So how does this connect to your park’s community? NRPA’s Parks Build Community initiative indicates how important revitalizing parks is to a community. Many studies have shown the correlation between accesses and use of parks to the overall health of a community, check out this video form the Trust for Public Lands for some great examples: http://goo.gl/AMv3LD. Here in North Carolina there are multiple opportunities to help increase overall use of parks without having to restructure your whole park. One idea is offer an adult walking & running clinic. It can be little, to no cost, to set up a time and location for a group to meet at one of your parks. Another idea to incorporate the youth sector is to generate an activity program night with designated games such as: scavenger hunts, capture the flag, or pick-up soccer games.Additionally offering community service projects in your park, a great way to engage your citizens especially youth and teens. Some project ideas may include; park clean up days, food drives or helping establish a community garden. These opportunities will gather families, friends, and school groups to contribute to the betterment of the park. Now that winter is approaching, it gives ample time to promote and create a plan for spring activities.
The ideas and options of program opportunities are endless, but ultimately the more you expose community members to your parks and facilities the more likely you are to create additional users within your parks. By creating more user in your park you will help to generate positivity and physical activity within your parks systems.If you have any programming ideas that help to build your community and promote wellness through your park systems then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (firstname.lastname@example.org,http://www.ncrpa.net/?Wellnesssub)
Happy last week of October!
Graduate Assistant,NC Recreation & Park Association
883 Washington St, Raleigh, NC27605