A hike or trip to the park with family or friends is a great way to stay active and healthy. Arizona is known for its outdoor activities, but unfortunately not everyone has an equal opportunity to experience them. Some places in our state have a shortage of parks, trails, and public spaces. Investing in these types of areas can have major benefits.
Having parks and trails is crucial because they can help improve physical and mental health. Going outside increases a child’s focus and allows them to get proper exercise. Access to parks also reduces youth crime rates, teaches children about nature, and allows communities to interact with each other.
Living an active life should never stop, especially as you get older. Adults and senior citizens also improve their health when utilizing parks and trails, and that’s why it’s critical for these places to be accessible for everyone. Accessible park facilities and trails allow seniors and people with disabilities to be involved in the community and reap the incredible benefits that open spaces have to offer.
A Park Score is given to cities all over the United States. The city’s score out of 100 determines how accessible and adequate parks are. Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Chandler scored the highest out of Arizona cities listed. Tucson, Glendale, and Mesa scored the lowest.
Scottsdale and Phoenix have a large amount of park space; however, most people live more than a 10-minute walk away from these spaces. Chandler parks have a high volume of dog parks and playgrounds. Residents in the lower ranking cities have more accessible parks, but they do not have nearly enough park space for the population. They also had fewer facilities such as playgrounds and senior centers in their parks and public spaces.
Thankfully, improvement initiatives are underway across the state. The Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative Program puts a portion of sales tax toward renovating parks and development of trails. Phoenix is also in the process of their South Mountain Trail System Project. To date, the project has added 5 more parks with playgrounds to the city.
To get involved with the parks and trails in your area, keep an eye out for events and activities. Pinnacle Prevention has worked with organizations in cities including Globe and Payson to host trail activities. These activities are free and open to the public, and are an opportunity to encourage residents to take advantage of everything these beautiful public places have to offer.
To see more parks, trails, and public spaces implemented in your community, check out both city and state resources, and reach out to your representatives and elected officials to voice your ideas, concerns and questions. More parks and trails will make your community better for you and your loved ones!