Despite the commercialization and shopping frenzy of recent years, this time of the year is all about gratitude, reflecting on why we are thankful and giving back. For many of us at Thanksgiving, it is tradition to talk with our families, friends and neighbors about for what it is we are thankful.
Family, health, good fortune, a hot meal, jobs, friendships, the ability to spend quality time with one another and the list can go on and on.
Well, what about adding one thing to the list – community parks and recreation.
I’d like to offer that all people should add to their “thankful for” list the parks and recreation in their community. Not only are we lucky to live in a culture that accepts the understanding that these places are truly for the people, but all year long parks and recreation quietly, and many times unnoticed, give so many gifts to us. They deserve a hearty “Thank You” dished out along with a hearty serving of sweet potatoes next week.
We put together 10 reasons why we should be thankful for parks and recreation (notice how so many of these tie to the ones I mention above?).
1. Parks and recreation allow us to become healthy and stay fit for adults AND our youth making the connection that getting active and eating healthy is fun and good.
2. Parks are places to see wildlife and experience nature, breathe in fresh air and appreciate what is natural and wholesome around us; they pass on the benefits of conservation and stewardship and cultivate a new appreciation for nature among the next generation.
3. Parks and recreation are great places to walk, hike and bike, maybe even pick up a new activity like skateboarding or pickleball.
4. Parks are places to enjoy a picnic – who doesn’t love to eat al fresco!
5. Parks and recreation bring generations together. Not only that, they bring all types of people together no matter age, race, income and ability. Community parks and recreation is one of the highest and best forms of ‘public good’—the right to enjoy your life, your health and your liberty.
6. Parks are places for festivals, concerts, art displays, music, craft fairs and community events. Where else can you find all that?
7. Parks and recreation provides places for sports—teams, individuals, practice and tournaments. Many elite and even some pro athletes got their start at the local park and rec.
8. Parks can revitalize underserved communities transforming them into vibrant destinations.
9. Parks and recreation provide a safe place for kids and are one of the largest providers of care during out-of-school times (afterschool, before school, weekends, holidays and the summer).
10. Parks and recreation offer the opportunity to volunteer and give back to our communities, the environment and others. On the flip-side, they are where we can go if we need help – many of our local parks provide low- to no-cost meals, enrichment programs, senior care and therapeutic recreation opportunities.
We asked our friends on Twitter:
I'm #thankful for my community parks and recreation because_____ .— NRPA news (@NRPA_news) November 19, 2013
And they said:
@NRPA_news ...we impact Summit County property values by nearly $42 million, and add up to $17 million in health benefits to residents.— Metro Parks - Summit (@metro_parks) November 19, 2013
@NRPA_news they promote healthy families!— Jim Lemke (@JimLemke) November 19, 2013
So who’s with me and will be thanking their local parks and recreation this Thanksgiving? I know I will.
What other reasons to be thankful for community parks and recreation would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments below or tweet it at us(@NRPA_News)!