Happy Park and Recreation month! Celebrated annually in July, Park and Recreation month helps to highlight some of the great roles that our profession has on the community. This July, we are celebrating all of the “undiscovered” roles of parks and recreation with the theme of "A Lifetime of Discovery". This wellness blog will go over some of the health and wellness benefits of parks and recreation.
When discussing the undiscovered roles of parks and recreation, I first thought about all of the health and wellness implications that our profession offers that the general public might not consider. For each week in July, I'll cover a new health and wellness benefit of our field.
This week, the"undiscovered benefit" of our profession is the importance of play in childhood development.
We all know that park and recreation departments are a big part of play in our communities. From playgrounds to open spaces, many children spend countless hours making use of your department's facilities.
When I think of play, I usually think in terms of physical activity. The "hidden" importance of play has even more implications. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth."
The article goes on to state "It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers."
When children engage in unstructured play, there are even more benefits. "Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue."
While the majority of this wellness blog has focused on childhood development, play also has importance for adults! According to the Washington Post, “What (researchers are) finding is that play isn’t just about goofing off; it can also be an important means of reducing stress and contributing to overall well-being.”
Be sure to check back next week for a new "undiscovered" role of parks and recreation!
Until next time,