December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 47

restrictions on public use of playgrounds
and play equipment were
relaxed and use of playgrounds dramatically
increased.
One of the enduring questions
about how the COVID-19 pandemic
has affected children over the past
months is what effect it has had on
children's capacity for play. To understand
the impacts on play, it is
useful to first ask a few questions
on the relative importance of public
playgrounds in communities, especially
in vulnerable communities
where often there are few opportunities
for children to play safely.
As epidemiological knowledge of the
COVID-19 virus expanded, restrictions
on public use of playgrounds and play
equipment were relaxed and use of
playgrounds dramatically increased.
Playgrounds as Social
Determinants of Health
For years, there has been great interest
by academic researchers and
health professionals in quantifying
the relationship that parks, school
playgrounds and other recreation
resources in neighborhoods and
communities have on influencing
the health and well-being of children
- and for that matter, the
health and well-being of parents
and caregivers as well. The influence
of public recreation spaces
and other aspects of the built environment
within communities and
early childhood development are
often included in the categories of
social determinants of health.
Definition of the categories of
social determinants of health vary,
but they invariably include the
conditions
of
the
environments
where people are born, live, work,
play and age. These social determinants
of health include access to
quality education, access to quality
healthcare, access to healthy
food, the social context of where
people live, environmental factors,
access to transportation, and the
impact of the built environment
on individuals and communities.
Dr. Michael Suk, systemwide chair
of the Geisinger Hospital system's
Musculoskeletal Institute in Pennsylvania
and board member of the
American Medical Association,
says that playgrounds play a critical
role as social determinants of
health. " Access to parks and playgrounds
is extremely important
in children's health and development, "
he says.
Further, the existence, location
and access to playgrounds, both
public and private, have a bearing
on the quantity and quality of play
that kids can engage in. Answering
the question of whether playgrounds
are a social determinant
of health, Allison Colman, NRPA's
director of health, says, " Absolutely
they are. Having access to quality
playspaces and playgrounds gives
children the health benefits of being
physically active, a way to develop
motor skills, a place to improve
mental health, and they contribute
to the overall health outcomes of
a community. " It is not just access
to built playgrounds and natural
environment playspaces, she says,
but also the connection to social
resources and social capital of the
community. " Playgrounds build social
cohesion, " Colman contends.
The Impact of
the Pandemic on
Children's Play
Has the pandemic affected children's
play? Play experts and park
and recreation professionals say
it has without question. Norma
García, director of the County of
Los Angeles Department of Parks
and Recreation, says that once early
pandemic stay-at-home orders were
relaxed, visitation to their parks and
playgrounds increased nearly 300
percent. " We saw that our parks became
places for refuge, respite and
physical activity. Parents told us
that they felt that our parks were the
only place they felt safe taking their
kids. "
García says that they completely
closed their playgrounds early in
the pandemic because of a public
health order by the county. " We
were inundated with calls. When
we finally opened them, it was like
every neighborhood had their own
Disneyland. Play is so vital to the
health of children. "
Elizabeth
Cushing, CEO of
PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G | DECEMBER 2 0 2 1
| Parks & Recreation
47

December 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of December 2021 - Parks & Recreation

December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 3
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 4
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 5
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 6
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 7
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 8
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 9
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 10
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 11
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 12
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 13
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 14
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 15
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 16
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 17
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 18
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 19
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 20
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 21
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 22
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 23
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 24
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 25
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 26
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 27
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 28
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 29
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 30
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 31
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 32
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 33
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 34
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 35
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 36
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 37
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 38
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 39
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 40
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 41
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 42
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 43
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 44
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 45
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 46
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 47
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 48
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 49
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 50
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 51
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 52
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 53
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 54
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 55
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 56
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com