Did you know that July is National Park and Recreation Month? Having clean, well-equipped parks near our house has encouraged us all to be more active and to spend more time outdoors. My boys love visiting the park, and the playground with its twisty slides, bridges and swings is a favorite. I volunteered as a Parks & Recreation board member for a few years while I was serving on our local school board. In fact, my son now attends the soccer program that we discussed opening while I was on the park board. One of my goals this summer is to step away from the computer and to be more active. My goal fits perfectly with the 2012 theme of National Park and Recreation Month: “Get Wild.” Get Wild encourages families to get outside, use their local parks, and keep active! I really appreciate having a safe space to teach my children how to ride a bike. Though a lot of parks don’t permit bikes, there are a number of trails available as a part of our local park system that are perfect for taking my boys out for a ride. Biking is a wonderful way for children and adults alike to stay active and have fun together. But biking is a lot more fun when you don’t have to worry about traffic and speeding cars! Do you and your family make use of your local park system? The benefits of parks are astounding and exponential. Here are some eye-opening facts, courtesy of the Park and Recreation website:
- It is estimated that U.S. urban park trees alone remove 75,000 tons of air pollutants annually. This translates into an economic benefit of $500 million each year.
- Children that have easy access to a playground (less than 2/3 of a mile from their home) are approximately five times more likely to have a healthy weight than children that do not have easy access to playgrounds.
- America’s State Parks has revealed that in 2009, approximately 725 million visits to 6,000 state parks across the country generated an economic impact of $20 billion for the communities surrounding the state parks. This return on investment is significant given that the annual nationwide budget expenditure was less than $2.5 billion.
Keeping parks a central part of communities is imperative in keeping kids healthy and active. Since I served on a local parks & rec board, I understand the budget challenges involved in maintaining parks and improving trails, playing fields and playground equipment as well as in funding programming for children. Will you and your family to join the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to GET WILD this summer? Head over to the NRPA website to find a calendar of events in your area. You can download the official Get Wild Toolkit and take the Get Wild Pledge.
If you have a GPS or smartphone, check out the Get Wild Geocaching Contest. Geocaching is a tech-savvy treasure hunt that thrills school age kids and tweens.
By sharing your geocaching photos on Facebook, you’ll be automatically entered to win one of 5 Magellan GC eXplorist GPS Devices in NRPA’s Get Wild Geocaching Contest. You can learn more at the National Recreation and Park Association Facebook Page.
I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of National Recreation and Park Association and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.