Spring is in the air, temperatures are rising and we are all increasingly eager to get outside and out of the house. Parks are an obvious place to spend free-time and offer a safe opportunity for outdoor socialization, but also offer many other benefits to our communities. Here’s a quick look at how a well-designed park can be a huge asset.
1. The ability to interact with nature
To many of us living in a metropolitan region, parks offer an opportunity to connect to nature. Although National and State parks bring us great examples of preserved natural wilderness and ecosystems, a local community park can go a long way at promoting interaction with nature on a very basic level. Sitting on a bench beneath a blooming Cherry tree, watching squirrels, or even just sitting in a lush lawn all bring us out of the built environment and into nature for a few minutes.
2. A chance to connect to your community
A well-designed park can also serve as the backbone of a community’s connective fabric. Parks offer a place for meeting, recreation, celebration, and socialization. Community parks are a vital springboard to many local clubs and organizations that otherwise would not have a place to meet. Pavilions, fields, and playgrounds are all amenities that promote connection to our communities.
3. Mental breaks
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes we need a mental break. Lunch in the park or a quick 10-minute walk on a trail can sometimes be enough to clear your mind and allow for a mental reset.
4. Physical activity – in any form
This one may be obvious, but one of the biggest benefits of a well-designed park is the ability to get some physical activity. From soccer to walking, parks provide a place for our bodies to move around and get our hearts pumping.
5. A sense of ownership and pride
Perhaps most importantly, a well-designed park can harbor the power to create a sense of ownership and community pride. Having a local park to call “your own” is a great feeling. Park users who visit their parks regularly do often develop a feeling of ownership and that leads to great things – like cleaner and safer parks. Park users, or stakeholders, who become invested in a park take care of it and become a crucial part of any municipal park master plans or designs.