July 2015 marks 30 years of Park and Recreation Month and the importance of parks and recreation for the world. Parks were created to serve the people—to give them a place to appreciate nature, exercise, socialize and have fun. Park and recreation agencies across the country are recognizing the month with summer programs, events, contests, commemorations and celebrations. Find an event near you.
Parks and recreation services are vital for our communities—from protecting open space and natural resources, to helping fight obesity, to providing activities and resources for all walks of life—Park and Recreation Month encourages everyone to reflect on the exponential value parks and recreation bring to communities. This July let’s celebrate the enduring Power of Parks.
Parks Have Health Power
- According to a 2014 article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, higher levels of green space were associated with lower symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.
- The Centers for Disease Control found that increased access to places for physical activity led to a 25.6 percent increase in people exercising 3 or more times per week.
- Living close to parks and other recreation facilities is consistently related to higher physical activity levels for both adults and youth.
- On average, children who live in greener environments weigh less than children who live in less green areas.
- Children that have easy access to a playground are approximately five times more likely to have a healthy weight than children that do not have easy access to playgrounds.
- The nation’s park and recreation facilities are on the frontline in the battle against the obesity epidemic and other chronic health issues.
- Between 2000 and 2012, more than 85 studies have been published that link parks to better physical and mental health.
Parks Have Environmental Power
- Parks, and particularly the trees in parks, have a direct and important impact on our quality of life. In fact, a 2006 study found that the air pollution removal value by urban trees in the United States is estimated to be 1.56 billion pounds per year – a value of $3.8 billion.
- A park with one acre of trees absorbs the carbon dioxide produced by driving a car 11,000 miles.
- Parks do a great deal to contribute to species richness in urban settings – a review of more than 60 studies by IFPRA shows that there is strong evidence to support the concept that parks support both plant and animal biodiversity. This offers not only important educational opportunity, but additionally supports overall ecosystem functionality.
- Parks reduce the impact of large storms and flooding by serving as sponges that soak up run off from nearby paved surfaces during rain events. This in turn prevents flooding, and decreases property damage. Parks that are well-designed also reduce water usage by recycling and storing this water for use during times of low precipitation.
- Evidence not only shows that parks are cooler than their surrounding cities, but actually shows that parks contribute to overall urban cooling – parks make our cities more comfortable in the summer!
Parks Have Economic Power
- According to the National Association of State Park Directors, 725 million people visited state parks in 2013. State parks cost $2.3 billion to operate, but they inject more than $20 billion into local economies.
- According to studies from the Trust for Public Land, five park systems located throughout the U.S. provided more than $5.4 billion in economic value.
To find out more about Park and Recreation Month and how you can get involved, please visit www.nrpa.org/july.