What Outdoor Parks Really Mean to a Neighborhood
Outdoor parks and playground areas are the perfect way to really bring a community together in a host of unique ways. They're the perfect way for your little ones to get outside and really enjoy the best that Mother Nature has to offer.
They're also an excellent opportunity for a bit of adult socializing — there are few better ways to meet the people who live around you than when your kids are playing on all of that great commercial playground equipment. But even going beyond the obvious, outdoor parks are a huge benefit to any neighborhood — often in ways that you may not initially think about.
Outdoor Parks and Property Values
Everyone knows that the area you live in plays an important role in determining the property value of your home. Things like low crime rates, excellent public school systems, and a wealth of quality features that stand out from surrounding areas all help increase the value of your home. But you might not realize that outdoor parks stocked with high quality commercial playground equipment and other desirable amenities also have an incredibly positive effect.
According to experts, these types of amenities — along with things like retail stores and an educated population - are actually the second major factor in determining whether a neighborhood will collectively go up or down in property value. Access to jobs is the only other factor that surpasses these amenities when it comes to property value.
A quality outdoor park can even help provide counterbalance to some of the factors that drag neighborhood property values down, like a high concentration of renters or specific types of businesses like a homeless shelter.
A Sense of Cultural Unity
If you live in a diverse neighborhood filled with people from a wide range of different cultures and ways of life, outdoor parks also serve to provide a much needed sense of cultural unity among the population. Outdoor parks are often home to many different events and programs designed to bring people together, with many areas offering everything from foreign language classes to citywide festivals that use public parks as a base of operations.
There would be other ways to accomplish this without public parks, but having a single, centralized place where people feel comfortable gathering certainly makes things easier.
The Emotional Benefits
It's no secret that getting outdoors and engaging in physical activity is one of the cornerstones of living a long and healthy life. What you might not realize is that a wide range of different emotional benefits ALSO come along with access to public parks, even if it's been decades since anyone called you a "kid."
In addition to physical activity, just being outdoors in a pleasant and welcoming setting like an outdoor park is scientifically proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and even the signs and symptoms of depression. Taking a lap around a park can lead to a reduction in cortisol levels, which itself is directly tied to the amount of stress you feel.
Think about how welcoming a little stress-relieving physical activity is in your own life when you have a bad day. Now, think about what a boost it could be to your entire community with the help of an outdoor park.
Public Parks Keep Communities Young
Finally, one cannot overlook the important role that public parks play in keeping their neighborhoods young and vibrant. Outdoor parks aren't built at random — commercial playground equipment and similar resources are a significant investment, so a great deal of research is conducted in terms of finding areas where they'll initially do the most good (i.e. areas with a lot of kids and younger families).
Generally speaking, it would be a waste of money to build a public park in an area that is only home to people over the age of 50 with kids who have long since moved away.
However, once parks in those areas are constructed, they act as an enticing feature to continue to draw young people or families with kids. This helps to make sure the community stays as diverse as possible from that perspective as well. A well designed, well maintained public park has the potential to keep a community young for generations to come.