Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Programs That Work!

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Programs That Work!

Article excerpt

At every turn it seems local public service agencies are being asked to do more with less. Sometimes this approach results in no real loss of service or quality. In some communities park and recreational functions are in the middle of these decisions, and we are dismayed when the worst scenario involves dissolution of public recreation functions. No where is this tendency more challenging than in services for youth.

The continuing public debate over controlling violent crime exposes serious differences among policymakers, legislators and advocates over effective strategies to address the rise of youth crime in America. Few would disagree that to prevent crime in the first instance is preferable to bearing the high social and economic costs of dealing with crime after the fact. However, agreement on when and how to invest in prevention through social strategies remains elusive.

Despite mounting evidence, one of the major challenges that we continue to face in our field evolves around the "proof" needed to show that wholesome recreation and park activities do serve to prevent or reduce crime, thereby softening one of our nation's most pressing social problems. Reality, of course, demands that prevention include a continuum of population- and environment-appropriate options. Perhaps no part of the crime prevention debate is less understood than the combined impact on children and youth discretionary time; lack of leisure literacy; and the absence of positive, eating role models, parents or others. Countering these influences are the citizen advocates, public policymakers and professionals who each day provide recreation places and services that diminish the likelihood of crime. Our awareness of this potential leads us to allocate more and more resources to support a broad array of continuing education, research and development of case studies which improve performance on the one hand and reveal the impact of recreation-based initiatives on the other.

Positive influence

Not withstanding the gaps in cause-effect analyses most local elected offlcials, judicial officers, and police, among others, acknowledge the positive influences of high quality recreation opportunities. …

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