There are many reasons that playgrounds and parks benefit children, communities, and neighborhoods. When it comes to something as important as allowing and helping children to enjoy the simple activity of play, the goal becomes to provide something that suits their needs, which deserves some thought.
Aside from being an area where children can play, there are a wide range of benefits that nature areas, exercise parks, school playgrounds, and more can provide. These benefits can vary depending on the goals of the playground or playground owner, and the benefits provided can depend on the specific goals and vision of what a completed area looks like.
For example, a large office complex/organization that wants to build an exercise park, a city looking to construct a rest and information area for the beginning of a public park, and a school looking to make a practice track field with exercise structures (monkey bars, pull up bars etc) or cross-country course, are all going to differ when it comes to the final vision.
This is because an office complex creating a private area is looking to provide benefits to employees or tenants, and are thus more likely to consist of safer exercise structures, more benches along the trails, more water access, and paved roads throughout the area.
A rest and information area for the public will suit a different purpose. As it is for everyone, little touches like signs for specific species of trees, flowers, vines and more will really leave a memorable impression for visitors. Publicly accessible areas like these are also a great place to have community activities as well as festivals, something that Austin and Zilker Park prove very well.
Public parks and their benefits have been widely studied, and they represent an area with the potential for immense returns. Studies by the NIH have shown immense benefits to the long-term health in children with access to public parks, trails and playgrounds. Communities near public trails and nature reserves see increased home values, increased tourism spending.
Well-maintained public hiking trails are a huge draw for individuals and thus businesses, and also provide numerous ecological benefits. Green space benefits to the environment include providing a buffer zone, helping redirect flood waters, provide a refuge for healthy wildlife management and healthier air quality and environment in general.
Those aren’t the only benefits that can lead to better outcomes for a community: higher quality schools and a higher number of daycares in an area are all predictors of success in later life. And of course while there is a measure of causation vs correlation, many studies have shown this to be the case.
When it comes to planning and implementing an outdoor play or recreational park area, make sure you keep your goals in mind. When it comes to getting approval from local boards, outlining community benefits and how your plans help those causes can help you fast track approval.