June is National Parks and Recreation Month
Local residents of the Rockford Park District are invited to sample more than 180 organized recreation programs and activities offered throughout the month, including free concerts twice weekly in Sinnissippi Park, a stroll through the fabulous and fragrant Sinnissippi Gardens, a challenging round of golf, a refreshing dip in a pool, picking up a new skill like tennis, or walking on a recreation pathway for your good health.
Studies have shown that recreation, fitness, active living and parks can enhance a persons overall health and well-being, while improving their quality of life, said Dr. Ted Flickinger, executive director of the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD). According to Dr. Flickinger, the benefits of parks and recreation encompass four main areas: economic, environment, individual and community.
Park districts, forest preserves and conservation districts boost Illinois economy by $3.3 billion each year. More than 34,000 Illinois citizens have jobs thanks to park districts, recreation or conservation agencies throughout the state. Many people also dont realize that tourism is a form of recreation, and it is the fourth leading industry in Illinois, bringing in millions of dollars, said Dr. Flickinger. Park districts and forest preserves are tourism destinations, especially those that operate historic sites and unusual recreation facilities.
Locally, facilities such as Magic Waters and Sportscore I are top tourism destinations. Eleven of the top 15 tourism destinations in Winnebago County are Rockford Park Distict facilities and museums, added Webbs Norman, executive director of the Rockford Park District and member of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau governing board.
According to Dr. Flickinger, the next benefit category, environmental benefits, is priceless. In todays world of urban sprawl, open space is a premium. It is absolutely essential to the preservation of wildlife and natural resources that cannot be replaced.
Seventy percent of most golf courses include natural grasses, trees and shrubs, which become attractive wildlife habitats. Sandy Hollow Golf Course and Aldeen Golf Club have been recognized by the Audubon Society for natural habitat practices. Several Park District sites have been awarded the City of Gardens outstanding public places recognition.
Individual benefits include such things as reduction of stress-related diseases, increased self-esteem and self-reliance as well as a sense of social belonging, said Dr. Flickinger.
Ranking with community benefits are reduction in crime and delinquency, stronger family connections and enhancement of ethnic understanding.
Call the Rockford Park District at 987-8800 for more information or pick up program information at any Rockford Park District office or recreational facility.