Feature Article - June 2007
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Urban Centers, Suburban Growth and Rural Recreation

When it comes to programming their facilities, the respondents in suburban communities were the most likely to offer programming of all kinds. There was no type of programming that could be found in more urban or rural facilities than in the suburban facilities.

The top 10 program offerings in suburban facilities do differ slightly from the general survey population, mainly because they simply are much more likely than others to offer most types of programming. For example, they were nearly 13 percent more likely to offer mind/body balance programs like yoga and tai chi than the general survey population. They were also 12.4 percent more likely to provide sport training options, such as golf instruction or tennis lessons. They are more than 10 percent more likely to offer fitness programs, and day camps and summer camps. They also include programs for active older adults among their top 10 program options, with more than 55 percent of suburban facilities offering such programming.

Suburban facilities were also the most likely to be planning new programs for the next few years. Their top five planned program additions were led by environmental education, followed by fitness programs, teen programs, mind/body balance and nutrition and diet counseling.

Among urban respondents, the top 10 current program offerings also differed from the general survey population in a couple of ways. They were nearly 11 percent more likely than the general survey population to provide mind/body balance programs. They also were nearly 10 percent more likely than respondents across the board to provide fitness programs, and were 5 percent more likely to include swimming programs, day camps and summer camps, sports tournaments or races, adult sports teams, and individual sports activities, such as running clubs and swim clubs.

Urban facilities were less likely than their suburban and rural counterparts to be planning additions to their programs. That said, their top five planned program additions for the next few years include fitness programs, mind/body balance programs, nutrition and diet counseling, teen programming, and educational programs.

The top 10 programs offered in rural communities also differ from the general survey results, mainly in the fact that these facilities tended to be less likely to offer programs of any kind. The exception to this rule was arts and crafts programs, which can be found in the facilities of more than two out of five of the rural respondents.

Rural communities were about average in terms of the programs they said they were planning to add in the next three years. They were more likely than the general survey population to be planning programs for environmental education, fitness, education, mind/body balance and teen programming.

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