Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Top Trends in Parks and Recreation for 2018

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Top Trends in Parks and Recreation for 2018

Article excerpt

What began a few years ago as a light-hearted look at new, interesting and even controversial trends in the field of parks and recreation has now be come an annual tradition for NRPA. Part tongue-in-cheek speculating and part fearless prognostication, here are NRPA's Top Trends for 2018:

Parks Everywhere, Especially Underground

Innovative locations for public parks are being proposed everywhere--on the tops of tall buildings, in the middle of stormwater management areas, even in abandoned underground spaces. Thirty years ago, who would have thought that repurposing abandoned rail corridors into linear parks and active transportation networks would become a nationwide movement that would conserve more than 22,000 miles of unused rail lines that would be converted to hiking and biking trails?

Today, the spotlight is on underground parks. New York's Lowline, billed as "the world's first subterranean green space" and scheduled to open in 2021, is the conversion of an abandoned underground trolley terminal. Increasingly, the question most often asked about unused public space in cities across America is becoming: "How can we turn this space into a park?"

PREDICTION: Major new underground public Parks will be proposed in three cities. Advocates fighting to keep the now-dosed Battery Street tunnel in Seattle (httpsy/tinyurl. com/y8ebwrsf) from being filled with rubble from the demolished Viaduct will win their fight, and this underground space will be turned into a unique and endlessly interesting public park.

Parks as Supervised Opioid Injection Sites

With the spread of opioid abuse nationwide, some parks and public areas regrettably have become preferred sites for opioid users. In response, some localities are considering providing designated opioid injection sites that are staffed with healthcare professionals to supervise injections. Such public health outreach has a long history in Europe, as well as in Canada and Australia. Most recently in the United States, King County, Washington, received state approval to establish an approved opioid injection site. More states are considering such proposals.

PREDICTION: One or more newly designated, supervised opioid injection sites will be established in a U.S. community recreation center in 2018.

Hepatitis, Coming to a Park Near You?

Public lands under highway bridges and along streams have sometimes become sites for homeless encampments. Such sites are much more likely to spread communicable diseases from unsanitary conditions and shared drug paraphernalia. In August 2017, the CDC notified all state and local health departments regarding investigations of clusters of hepatitis A in persons who were homeless and/or used injection drugs (https://tinyurl.com/y79opeuq). Recent outbreaks of hepatitis A in San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, California, were widely reported in 2017 and incidences of hepatitis A have increased in other states, including Michigan, Kentucky and Utah.

PREDICTION: Sadly, a U.S. park system will become the site of a hepatitis A outbreak in 2018.

Parks and Rec as Partners in Evidence-Based Health Delivery

On the good news side regarding parks and health, many park and recreation areas are not only becoming places to improve health through physical activity, but also places to participate in evidence-based programs that measurably improve health. NRPA-sponsored programs with local park and rec agencies (http://www.nrpa.org/our-work/partnerships/initiatives/ healthy-aging-in-parks/evidence-based-interventions/) range from Active Living Every Day for sedentary adults to Walk With Ease low-impact, weekly walking programs and arthritis intervention programs, such as Fit and Strong!, for those with osteoarthritis. One hundred and fifty-five agencies representing 45 states have already made commitments to implement arthritis evidence-based physical activity programs in parks. …

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