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Statistics Show Growing Demand
For Parks & Recreation Services

The American people think highly of their public park and recreation services, and most people use them, according to a recent study by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Key findings of the study, The Benefits of Local Recreation and Park Services: A Nationwide Study of the Perceptions of The American Public, included:

75 percent of the American public utilizes park and recreation services.

More than 75 percent of the population believes that park and recreation services in their local area are worth more than the average amount spent on parks nationwide ($45 per person annually).

69 percent of the U.S. population believes in local park and recreation services sufficiently to favor funding those services with both user fees and taxes.

71 percent of those contacted said there is a park or playground within walking distance of their home.

60 percent said their own community receives a great deal of benefit from local park and recreation areas.

30 percent had taken part in an activity organized by their local recreation and parks agency.

71 percent of those who don't use local parks nevertheless said they obtain a benefit from having the services of park and recreation agencies in their area.

Most park users are more healthy than non-users.

The study was conducted for NRPA by Dr. Geoffrey Godbey and Dr. Alan Graefe of Penn State University, and funded by the National Recreation Foundation.

Other important findings included:

One of five people surveyed said they have taken up a new leisure activity within the past year.

There is a strong statistical relationship between beginning a new recreation activity and an individual's age, marital status, residence type, race, level of education, income, and political affiliation.

"The findings are very important," according to R. Dean Tice, Executive Director of the National Recreation and Park Association. "The public actively participates in our programs, believes in the value of the service they are receiving, and is willing to support tax dollars and user fees to continue receiving service.

"In addition, it is clear that park users are healthier than non-park users, indicating that public recreation can contribute to reducing our nation's ever-increasing health bill," Tice added.

"Furthermore... it is clear that there is a deep-seated belief that parks and recreation is a necessary and fundamental part of any community," Tice said.

The findings were uncovered in a telephone interview with a representative national sample of 1,300 people 15 years of age or older. The study interviews were conducted between January and February, 1992.

Editor's Note:

Submit your two or three page, double-spaced typed Trends article to: Trends Editor, 211 East Monroe, Springfield, Ill. 62701.

Illinois Parks and Recreation 37 November/December 1992

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