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  March 30, 2015  

Social/Community Values and Benefits of State Parks


A. Interaction and Understanding:

  1. Promotes family values -- Recreation is the biggest contributing factor to creating strong and supportive families. Families that recreate together tend to be closer and more cohesive, thus improving the chances for staying together, Husbands and wives who spend their leisure time together in joint activities tend to be much more satisfied with their marriages. Shared leisure activities is essential for building and maintaining a strong, healthy relationship between parents and children. Healthy families reduce the need for expensive social services to heal dysfunctional relationships and the anger and damage that results from dysfunctionality.
  2. Promotes ethnic and cultural harmony -- Laughter and smiles are universal. Providing Opportunities for cross-cultural recreational activities allows people of different backgrounds to have fun together. This social interaction breaks down unfamiliarity and isolation, two chief factors associated with racism. Cross-cultural and inter_cultural recreational programming helps the races understand and appreciate each other. This is particularly effective with children of young ages. Cross-cultural contact can only increase the harrnony of the broader community1 thus reducing the costs associated with conflict1 mistrust and racism.
  3. Reduces alienation and loneilness -- Youth and live-alone elderly are often cut off from the mainstream of the community. Both youth and elderly lost self esteem. Youth respond with anger. When young people feel alienated and alone, they often strike out in destructive ways. Elderly lose their purpose for being and retreat into their homes, increasing health risks. Involving both youth and elderly in recreational programs reduces their alienation and loneliness and increases intergenerational understanding.
  4. Promotes understanding and inclusion of those with disabilities -- Improving the quality of life for those with disabilities is particularly enhanced through recreational and social interaction associated with having fun. A tremendous emphasis is being placed on providing recreational opportunities for the disadvantaged, which brings these individuals into a more full contact with society. It encourages the entire community to participate and support full accessibility.

B. A Source of Pride:

  1. Quality of Life -- Studies that identify the components of quality of life always focus on recreational opportunities, proximity to open space and quality of recreational facilities.
  2. Pride in communities -- Communities with a strong recreational component are sought after places to live, providing residents with a source of community pride not found in many othersegments of community life. Every year 250,000 retirees move to another state, their choice influenced by recreational opportunities. Pride in your community reduces problems associated with alienation and distmst and can be employed as a foundation from which to tackle even bigger community challenges.
  3. Improves opportunity for shared community involvement -- Much community support for recreation is provided by volunteers. These people donate of their time and money to ensure that recreational opportunities are available for all ages and all backgrounds. This dedication by community members makes leisure and recreation the most responsive and cost -- effective component of many local and state governments. This dedication and pride in recreational opportunities builds citizenship and is an important foundation for interest and involvement in other aspects of the community.

C. Strategy for Safe Neighborhoods:

  1. Reduces anti-social behavior-- Reducing alienation and loneliness, increasing understanding between cultures, instilling pride in ones community, and providing a purpose for being all reduce the likelihood of anger and the resulting anti social behavior. Providing an alternative to anger and showing people that life has a purpose (something a job seldom fulfills) decreases destructive behavior and reduces the societal cost for police and other social services. Communities with active recreation programs see a reduction in crime. For those struggling to fit into society, recreation can provide increased knowledge and skills in self-awareness, as well as social skills and social interactions. Recreation is preventative medicine for social ills caused by youth and young adults having nothing to do".
    • Fort Myers, Florida -- juvenile arrests dropped 28% when the city began the STAR (Success Through Academics and Recreation Support) program.
    • Phoenix, Arizona -- juvenile crime dropped 55% when recreational facilities were kept open until 2:00 a.m.
  2. Supports Latchkey Children -- Single working parents or both parents working need assistance with child care after school and during the summer. Recreational programs provide child care in a setting that stimulates the children, teaches them understanding and tolerance, instills community pride, and teaches self esteem. As fewer and fewer families can afford the luxury of a stay-at-home parent, the demand for recreational programs and opportunities will increase.

D. Training Ground for Community Leaders:

  1. Youth Leadership -- The training ground for tomorrow's leaders is today's youth organizations. Leadership is identified, developed and nurtured through a wide variety of recreational organizations like the Y's, Boys' and Girls' Clubs, Scouting, camps, team sports, etc. Leaders are provided the opportunity to emerge at a young age and develop their skills into adulthood.
  2. Adult Leadership -- Providing leadership opportunities for youth requires a set of dedicated adults. Volunteer leadership positions provide the opportunity for many adults to hone leadership skills learned at a younger age. Leadership skills that mature in the recreation and leisure fields are easily used to try and solve other community problems
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