Mary Helen Sprecher 2014-03-12 05:22:54
Parks: Stoking Kids’ Dreams Forget about robins and bluebirds. For me, the real harbinger of spring is the sign that goes up near the entrance to my local park, encouraging parents to register their children for the rec program that runs from the close of school to the end of August. The park is a great place for kids to learn about all the possibilities that open up to them when they unplug themselves from the TV and Internet and immerse themselves in the outdoors. Kids in the rec program do everything from day hikes to bird watching, from fishing to tennis, from tubing to bicycling and a whole lot more. Throughout the summer, they get a great cross-section of the amenities available to them free of charge at their local park. And this is by no means a unique program; various park and rec programs take place every year in cities and towns across the U.S. I have a great deal of respect for parks and the people who staff them. Whether the park is an urban oasis, a pocket playground or a wooded area with a trail, it’s responsible for stoking kids’ dreams and giving them a chance to be free and active. Since I’m forever looking for ways to get kids moving, I’m a big fan of grants park users and advocates can apply for, in order to better the facilities of their local parks.The National Recreation and Parks Association (www.nrpa.org) has information on various programs available to those who want to build or improve facilities, such as skate parks and tennis courts. Want to expand the recreational opportunities for children in your area? Check out the site. This issue gives us a great look at some fascinating facilities. Some are even based in city-owned and operated parks, and you’ll discover those as you wander through the pages. We have a wealth of information in this issue, including articles on insurance, hotel selection, medical support at sports events, and how to effectively plan an event for athletes with mobility limitations. Don’t miss our feature on the mountain region of the U.S. either – it’s a lot more than skiing and hiking destinations. We’ll look at baseball facilities around the U.S. and get some insights into what goes into a successful swimming and diving event. We’ll also find out what is going on in the golf industry – as the Summer Olympics creep ever closer, what is this sport doing to bring in new players and rejuvenate its image? The weather is warming up, the mowers are whirring and pretty soon, the parks will ring with the sound of kids at play. These are our future athletes, coaches and industry members. Let’s all do our part in making sure the great outdoors are tempting enough to keep them outside this summer, and in summers to come. MARY HELEN SPRECHER has been a technical writer for more than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the national association of designers, builders and suppliers of materials for athletic facilities. She has worked in meeting and convention planning for non-profit associations, and previously was a staff writer for a Baltimore, Maryland newspaper. She is a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management, a professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has taught meeting planning and event management courses in the continuing studies program at Goucher College, located in Towson, Maryland.Her freelance writing includes coverage of topics in the areas of fitness, health, sports medicine and special education.
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