By: Nikki Sassenus, Assistant Director
Since 1985, Americans have celebrated July as the nation's official Park and Recreation Month to recognize the vital role parks and Recreation plays in our communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we heard a lot about the role parks played in providing space to achieve mental well-being, physical health, and personal interactions (be it from a distance). While the rest of the world was shuttered and closed, parks were open.
For decades, parks and recreational professionals have advocated that parks and quality programs as essential services. But while many people would agree playgrounds and programs are nice to have, funding for these is the first to get cut when times get tough. This is understandable when you are also funding public safety, roads, etc.
However, after a year spent in isolation, it's time to reevaluate how we define essential services. To truly understand the essential nature of parks and Recreation, we must examine the objectives behind parks and programs, the "why," in why we need them.
Parks like South Lakes don't just offer a place to jog or play but a means for physical exercise, stress relief, interaction, and community building. The trails at Lake Forest Park aren't just a place for kids to ride their bikes- it's an opportunity to develop motor skills, physical coordination, and combat childhood obesity. Similarly, the 4th of July Yankee Doodle Parade downtown isn't just about the decorated cars and candy tossed from float riders, but an opportunity for the community to come together, a chance to meet people, and a way to foster connections. According to the National Association of Town Watch, the best way to build a safer community is to know your neighbors. Parks and Recreation provides the places, programs, and opportunities to do just that.
In the last year, more people became aware of Parks and Recreation's essential role in their community. So celebrate with us! Go to a park. Find a program. Visit a recreation center. Or volunteer. And celebrate parks and Recreation today and every day. For information on City of Denton Parks and programs, visit our website or follow us on Facebook