All month long communities across the country are recognizing and celebrating their parks and recreation programs. Parks and recreation programs are a great way to promote healthy and active living in cities while also giving citizens a place to connect. These programs tackle some of our nation’s toughest issues, such as obesity, climate change, environmental sustainability, social equity, and more! To help you celebrate, here are 5 quick tips on how to improve your parks and recreation offerings:
SURVEY, SURVEY, AND SURVEY AGAIN
The use of surveys can give you insight on how citizens are utilizing parks and highlight areas where there need to be improvements. Try hosting park and recreation events and distributing surveys there. Individuals attending these events are already interested and energetic about parks. Another tip is to also offer your surveys digitally, using your website and social media channels.
SEEK, DEVELOP, AND SUPPORT STAFF
A talented parks and recreation staff is key to the program’s success. Recruit experienced staffers and properly training your inexperienced staff. Topics like health and wellness and conservation are consistently evolving, and it’s important to make sure your staff is up-to-date on the latest information. An efficient way to stay in the know is to subscribe to the Open Space blog from the National Recreation and Park Association.
CULTIVATE AND REWARD GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE
The interaction between citizens and staff is always an important component of local government, and this is certainly true when it comes to parks and recreation staff. Management should take notice when staff members provide good customer service and offer such rewards as paid time off or public acknowledgement.
CREATE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
Parks are the perfect place to engage citizens and increase their sense of community. A great way to do this is to host volunteer programs in the open spaces. Such programs have the dual benefit of engaging volunteers with staff while providing free assistance to park and recreation staff. You can learn more about how volunteerism impacts communities by checking out Episode 1 of the ICMA podcast, Local Gov Life.
PARTNER WITH LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS TO BOOST RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
A great way to encourage citizens to participate in a parks and recreation program is to partner with popular national organizations with a local presence that can both support and market the opportunity. Try contacting large organizations, such as U.S. Club Soccer, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, NFL Play 60, and the hundreds of other programs out there. You can also contact smaller organizations that are only working in your area.
The information in this blog post was adapted from the ICMA e-document What Works: Parks and Recreation.