The National Recreation and Parks Association is encouraging people everywhere to make sure kids get out into the parks this summer for some good old-fashioned recreation, and that includes sports like soccer and baseball and softball.
All hail municipal fields!
Yes, everyone oohs and aahs over MLB and NFL fields. We know they’re state of the art, they drain well and they play great. (They should; they have a great staff to keep them going, right?) But hour after hour and year after year, very few facilities get the mileage that public sports fields receive. And let’s face it — those are the places where a lot of players get their start, and where a lot of rec programs give kids their first taste of sports like baseball, softball and soccer. It’s also where plenty of people play on a regular basis, and do quite well for themselves.
The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) is encouraging people everywhere to make sure kids get out into the parks this summer for some good old-fashioned recreation, and that includes sports like soccer and baseball and softball. Particularly at a time when people are still being cautious with their money and perhaps not taking a long or expensive vacation, park and rec programs are looking better than ever.
The Rock Your Park initiative will be held this July, which since 1985 has been celebrated as Parks and Recreation Month. This year, July will have five weekends, and NRPA is encouraging families, singles and everyone in between to pledge to “Take the Five,” and spend each weekend exploring various aspects of their local parks: nature trails, tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, swimming pools and more including, naturally, athletic fields of all kinds.
Just to prove they’re dialed in with the younger generation, NRPA has also instituted the 2011 Rock Your Park Flash Mob Contest. Contestants can use YouTube to capture a flash mob performance that demonstrates the power of parks and rec. One municipal agency and one citizens’ group will be chosen as winners. Ever thought of organizing some kind of soccer flash mob?
With the end of school only a few weeks away, it’s important to build the excitement now for the programs that can help coax kids outside, and away from TVs, computers, game systems and other sedentary pursuits. The good news? Like parks themselves, the tools are free, and readily available.
The website for the initiative, www.NRPA.org/July, has information on the contest, pledge and more. A marketing tool kit is also available for download. Bonus points to NRPA for including an official “Rock Your Park” social media poster. The message being sent is clear: Parks are more than places to sit on benches and feed pigeons; they’re outdoor fitness facilities with endless possibilities.
Take a moment to plan a game with your kids — or the neighborhood kids — in a public field. Or go one step further and do a clean-up of the area. Leave it better than you found it. The next person to enter that field might be doing it for the first time. Wouldn’t a positive experience be a great way to keep them coming back?