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Local parks and playgrounds can be more beneficial than you may realize. Sure, kids love a playground. But there are also important social and economic reasons that playgrounds aren’t just for kids.

Social Impacts

Playgrounds are natural meeting places for children and their caretakers. In dense urban environments, families may not have their own outside space for children and pets to play. Public spaces such as playgrounds serve an important function in such environments by allowing children and pets to exercise, play, and meet others. In less dense and suburban environments, sometimes the opposite problem arises where families with children are too spread out to interact with each other. Neighborhood playgrounds serve as an important gathering place and promote a sense of community. Interacting with others can help with social issues such as anxiety and even xenophobia. Some communities even have “playgrounds” developed for adults and senior citizens which allows them to exercise and socialize.

Adjacent parks and other public spaces can also serve as community gathering places for sports practice, barbecues, or volunteering. All of these activities give local citizens ways to invest in their communities and strengthen the ties between them. With the advent and proliferation of online and social media, more people are spending time interacting with others electronically. While there is nothing wrong with that per se, cities and communities should maintain an emphasis on preserving and facilitating in-person interactions as well.

Economic Impacts

Cities are wise to consider the economic opportunities of playgrounds and parks. By doing so cities may recoup and even profit from the one-time construction and upkeep costs. Playgrounds increase foot and vehicle traffic on routes to and from their location. This creates opportunities for businesses large and small to advertise and serve community members. Playgrounds provide opportunities for maintenance employment with easy-to-see benefits to local communities. They can also increase local home values around them which benefits local owners as well as cities with increased property tax revenue. Playgrounds and parks provide excellent opportunities for urban renewal which can stem the tide or reverse slumping property value trends.

Playgrounds are Important for Children

Opportunities for play are important in childhood–this is recognized by many countries and cultures. As social creatures it is important for children to be exposed to others in a safe environment and one that creates opportunities for creativity and interaction. Play is a way for children to interact with friend groups and to make new friends, practice motor skills, teamwork, how to win and lose, and how to relieve stress in a constructive way. The physical exercise aspects of play that playgrounds afford are also a valuable tool to burn calories, strengthen cardiovascular systems, and place kids on a trajectory for a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. Parks and playgrounds make a great local endpoint for bike rides, dog walks, and other physically and mentally stimulating activities. As such, they serve as a way to encourage healthy activity in an enjoyable and beneficial way for everyone in the community.

If you’re interested in more information about playgrounds contact T.F. Harper & Associates LP in Austin, TX.

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