Create a Recreation Space Designed for Families
A really great family recreation space offers something to engage everyone. With all the options, how do you decide on what's right for your community? A well-used, much-loved recreation space isn't a product of a person or committee's opinion; it takes community study, open dialogue and research to ensure the space meets the needs of the unique community and residents it serves. To that end, there are many tools and products available to help guide the process of discovery, research, design, implementation and programming. Community involvement is one of the most critical aspects of any new recreation project, in terms of local priorities, awareness, fundraising and support. Once these priorities are identified, you can research best practice design and products to fit the community's identified needs.
Q: Our community wants active adult fitness opportunities as well as play. What should we consider?
A: There are a variety of fitness options for active adults of all ages and abilities, from equipment to accommodate mobility devices to options for the active aging population. When selecting fitness equipment, it's crucial to think about offering a well-rounded workout. Unlike indoor gyms, where there is usually a lot of equipment to choose from, an outdoor space will general have between six and 15 pieces, so choosing a mix designed to develop aerobic, core and muscle fitness, as well as balance and flexibility, is critical to a good design. Balance and flexibility are so often overlooked, and are the most commonly identified concern of adults, especially as they get older.
Q: We have a lot of families with dogs. How can we cater to them without opening the whole park to them?
A: Dog parks are one of the fastest-growing public amenities and are in high demand. They help to keep both owners and dogs active, increase enjoyment of the outdoors, and help encourage social interaction between pets and people. There are great resources available to help with planning and implementation strategies, including how to deal with neighbor concerns, build support, consider all aspects of design, and program the space. For the many family households that own a dog, a nearby dog park can have a tremendous effect on encouraging active behavior.
Q: What about the tween-teen age kids? How do we make the park inviting to them?
A: There are several ways to create fun spaces for kids too old for the typical playground. Climbing walls are one great option. They don't have to be high; there are traverse walls that are great fun, and mimic the kind of climbing done on a lot of obstacle race courses. In relation, there are fitness-focused courses available now that make exercise feel more like play than work, and teens find them irresistible. Also, since many teens get around by bike, offering creative spaces to park, pathways designed for bike and skate traffic, and even repair stations to fix a flat tire help make your facility more inviting. Don't forget gathering spaces; adding well-placed site amenities like benches and tables with shade structures or shelters creates inviting spaces for people to be.
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