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Posted on: July 19, 2017

Park Champions Wanted – Why Dallas Needs Park Advocates

FAmily having a picnic in the park

Parks play a central role in the overall health and well-being of America’s cities and the residents who live in them. Dallas, like most large urban cities, is rapidly growing and changing. Huge construction projects, major freeway and interchange expansions, and an influx of younger residents to downtown and surrounding areas have created both new growth and new challenges to the city landscape.


In the process of these important changes it is vital that city parks maintain and encourage strong advocates. City planners, elected officials, and community and neighborhood leaders are needed to support city parks and advocate for not only their survival but their future.


Parks need park advocates. And anyone can be advocates for parks.


Park advocates are needed to promote the beauty and the importance of parks and how they can enhance the lives of citizens across the city. Volunteer groups, neighborhood clubs, Friends organizations, church groups, and other community involvement provide a wealth of support to urban parks.


The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports that half of all adults in the U.S. have their health compromised by chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Statistics show that annually the cost in this country of these illnesses is staggering: Diabetes, $245 Billion; Obesity, $147 Billion; and Heart Disease, $108 Billion.


Parks play a crucial part in the health of individuals within the city by providing a vast array of recreational activities, fitness programs and events, walking and bike trails, and green space for picnicking and other leisure opportunities.

Trees in urban parks help remove from the air toxins such as carbon monoxide and other pollutants. And some cities are using a green infrastructure approach in parks to manage storm water and help prevent flooding.

There is no question that city parks help address a variety of urban issues. Beyond the recreational opportunities, they increase property values, stimulate local economies, help combat crime, and produce positive environmental impacts.


Together, people of diverse backgrounds, social status, financial means, and community concern, can be powerful advocates for parks across the city.

 

Peter Harnik, Director of the Center for City Park Excellence in metro Washington, D.C., has written that parks “help make cities softer, more beautiful, more sociable, more fun, more ecologically sound, and more successful.”


Indeed, they do. And that is why advocates for urban parks are a critical part of the future of any great city.


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