I attended the annual 4th of July Celebration event at Tigard High School like hundreds of others this year.
Yes the fireworks were the main feature and reason many showed up… but something else is going on community leaders need to pay attention too.
The place was literally abuzz with conversation and activities within each families picnic area on the football field.
If I didn’t know any better I’d say I was experiencing a 60’s and 70’s blast from the past event. Especially with the genre of music played throughout the evening. I was thoroughly entertained watching everything from children and adults playing yard games with oversized racquets, to nerf and beach balls airborne overhead. While others juggled, performed gymnastics and danced for a captured audience.
People participated in other activities like Gunny sack races for all ages, pictures were taken with visiting Star War troopers, and children lined up for the free face painting. While others stood in line to have family pictures taken with choice of background.
On top of all this the Tualatin community band played. There were also educational static displays by the Tigard police department, TVFD and a life flight helicopter landed and crew engaged onlookers. All of these activities can be defined and related to as various forms of recreation activities within a community event.
Why is it important for community leaders to be able to define, relate and apply recreational activities and events valued by the public? Without connecting these dots – community leaders don’t typically think beyond financial balance sheets and City budgetary cuts.
The National Framework for Recreation in Canada (2015) defines recreation as: “The experience that results from freely chosen participation in physical, social, intellectual, creative and spiritual pursuits that enhance individual and community wellbeing. ‘Recreation is the positive actions and choices we make to recreate, to restore and refresh the mind, body and spirit.’” Recreation means lots of different things to different people. “Taking a walk around the block or in the local park, going to the library, Singing in a choir, playing tennis, being part of a sport team, rollerblading on community trails, taking an art or knitting class, taking a Zumba class, going camping, playing golf, reading a book, playing on the playground with your children, volunteering at the local senior center.” Source: http://www.gov.mb.ca/mr/bldgcomm/recreg/rhl.html
Research shows us robust city parks and recreation activities and annual community events enhance state of wellbeing while connecting people in unique ways where they are reminded why their city is a great place to live, work, play, spend leisurely time and age in place.
“All research indicates that people don’t move to a community because of the water quality or how often trash is picked up,” Thrower says [Director of the City of West Palm Beach Parks & Rec Depart]. “While safety is important, it is usually not the main reason someone moves to a city.” … “Today we are everything from drowning prevention to after-school care for children, to the only social interaction a senior citizen might experience.”
“Quality parks and recreation are cited as one of the top three reasons that business cite in relocation decisions in a number of studies. Access to parks and recreation opportunities has been strongly linked to reductions in crime and to reduced juvenile delinquency. Parks have a value to communities that transcend the amount of dollars invested or the revenues gained from fees.” Source: https://recreation.eku.edu/importance-parks-and-recreation
“There are no communities that pride themselves on their quality of life, promote themselves as a desirable location for businesses to relocate, or maintain that they are environmental stewards of their natural resources, without such communities having a robust, active system of parks and recreation programs for public use and enjoyment.” Source: https://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Advocacy/Resources/Parks-Recreation-Essential-Public-Services-January-2010.pdf
For reasons previously mentioned and too many more to list, it is important for community leaders to recognize the value and benefits recreational events and programmed activities bring to communities – and why they should not be cut during challenging economic times.
“Across the country, parks and recreation departments are facing challenges due to improper funding,” Curtis says [Virginia Beach Deputy City Manager]. Thrower says that since parks and recreation departments are a quality-of-life issue, not a public safety one, they are constantly on the chopping block for funds. … Thrower says that parks and recreation departments are a necessity that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
If City leaders are serious about outreach and community engagement that recruits support for Parks & Recreation amenities and activities – it is wise to recall, recreation events have a way of connecting people who want to help support the next annual event. Which can lead to a list of willing volunteers in support of other City goals, programs and services.
Read city recreation return on investment at: https://wp.me/p8mORL-1rf
Learn more about more upcoming City of Tigard events: http://www.tigard-or.gov/community/events.php
Good health to you and your family.
Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET., is a member of the Tigard City Council. He is a strong proponent of City involvement in providing recreational opportunities for its residents. 2018 Copy right. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., “To learn more about MirrorAthlete Fit Healthy Lifestyle, City Recreation and free monthly newsletter, visit: www.mirrorathlete.com.”