Friday, August 29, 2014

Celebrate our parks and recreation

By Christine Helweg

The National Recreation and Park Association and the California Park and Recreation Society both commemorate July as National Parks and Recreation Month. Since 1985, this annual designation has been an opportunity for agencies and community organizations to emphasize the importance and the benefits of parks and recreation and how they have become woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.

Parks and recreation touch more than 300 million people in this country. From the largest cities to the most rural communities, public parks and recreation agencies around the country are united in their mission to improve health and well-being, provide safe and enjoyable recreation opportunities, better the environment and provide their respective communities with a higher quality of living.

The city of Davis has made a substantial investment to support recreation programs and to create quality parks and greenbelts for the Davis community. Through the Community Services and Parks Divisions, the city has provided a comprehensive parks and recreation system, with both passive and active features, that address the needs of all residents, as well as income-generating tourism elements for visitors.

Each year, Community Services staff provide almost 200,000 hours of organized recreation programming for more than 20,000 participants, while our extensive system of parks and greenbelt facilities provide countless hours for the public to engage in self-directed recreational activities, such as walking, biking and personal exercise.

In recognition of the significant investment that the city has made in the past to support parks and recreation, the community is encouraged to continue being a voice and an advocate for parks and recreation as an essential service during these continuing economic times. One must remember that the greatness of the community can be mostly found in the quality of its public spaces, its recreation activities, and in its parks and open spaces.

The proposed proclamation was scheduled for adoption by the City Council at its meeting Tuesday. Bearing in mind the importance that parks and recreation have within our community, the proposed proclamation supports the notion that:

* The city should continue to maintain and provide adequate parks and recreation facilities to assure the high-quality character and livability of the community;

* Passive open spaces remain a valuable component of a livable city;

* Youth programs are a major part of life for many families. Parks and recreation facilities and programs provide a safe refuge and a place to play, which helps to reduce at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse and gang involvement. Youth participation in parks and recreation programs has been proved repeatedly to reduce the likelihood of youths becoming victims of violent crime, being in an automobile accident, smoking, drinking alcohol or use illegal substances/drugs;

* Excellent parks and recreation programs promote healthy lifestyles and social interactivity for all ages, which help to maintain community cohesion and pride;

* The city should continue to promote recreation and sport destination activities in Davis; and

* The city should continue to promote and provide recreational and social opportunities to those less abled, such as reintroducing injured military veterans and those with physical and mental disabilities, providing activities to combat obesity and promote healthy nutrition, and supporting community organizations that use chronic disease prevention techniques.

For discount ticket offers to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom or California’s Great America, go to the city of Davis Community Services website at parks-and-recreation-month and follow the simple ordering instructions.

— Christine Helweg is a city of Davis community services superintendent. Reach her at



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