Love Parks Week 21-29 July 2012
SummaryResearch proves that green spaces are restorative and therapeutic; they provide a relief from stress, a place for peace, a place for exercise, and a place to create connections with other people in our community.
Dr William Bird, Practicing GP and Founder/Director of Intelligent Health put things into perspective, “Chronic stress is now being associated with cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia and depression – all the diseases western societies are struggling with. A better environment, a society that connects people and gives them a sense of place and purpose are natural remedies for this. Parks and green spaces obviously provide this remedy, but until we actually invest in our green spaces the way we do traditional health care, we’re never going to see these spaces reach their full potential to keep this nation healthy. Replacing green infrastructure with grey is detrimental to everyone.”
If a park is underfunded, the local community, environment and economy cannot reap the benefits from it. Visitors will not feel safe, relaxed or inspired; it may attract crime, become unsightly and intimidating. This is when a park becomes unhealthy and at risk. Think about your closest park – is it easily accessible, attractive, and welcoming? Is it well maintained, safe and secure? Is it vibrant and full of life? Do you think it’s a hub for your community? These are the questions the Park Health Check by the awareness-raising campaign Love Parks Week wants to answer. By rating these essential park qualities, anyone can reveal the overall health of their park and understand if it is at risk.
“We know what a ‘quality’ park looks like, but what we’re aiming to achieve with our Park Health Check is to evaluate quality by perception rather than definition. How people actually feel about their local space? It also aims to educate people; highlighting what parks provide to their community/life or indeed what they could do to improve it and keep it healthy,” says David Tibbatts from organising parks charity GreenSpace.
He adds, “We don’t want people having to take a bus to a park because they don’t feel safe in the one they have on their doorstep; we don’t want children growing up with no memories of playing in their local park, meeting friends etc. We don’t want people feeling isolated, disconnected from their community – everyone needs easy access to quality, healthy, thriving green space near to their place of living. Let’s not by-pass parks.”
How healthy is your park? Is it at risk? Take the simple two minute Park Health Check, run by the awareness raising campaign Love Parks Week. www.loveparksweek.org.uk/your-park
- Love Parks Week is organised by parks charity GreenSpace. GreenSpace is a registered charity which works to improve parks and green spaces by raising awareness, involving communities and creating skilled professionals. GreenSpace are part of the Green Flag Plus Partnership. For more information: www.green-space.org.uk. www.greenflagawards.co.uk
- Love Parks Week has launched a Love Parks Club for all green space lovers and want to be advocates.
- Love Parks Week began in 2006 with a simple aim: to encourage people to visit, enjoy and take pride in their local parks and green spaces. The first year 240 events took place with 96,000 attendees attending. Over the next five years the campaign made huge steps forward, building up to 1,200 events and one million people taking part in Love Parks Week 2011.
- For more information on Love Parks Week including supporting/sponsorship, how to hold an event, registering an event, toolkits and details of events happening during the week, visit the newly launched www.loveparksweek.org.uk.
Dr William Bird has pioneered the research and promotion of physical activity, the natural environment and sustainability as a health benefit for over 15 years. William currently advises the UK Government through the Department of Health and Defra on the financial and health benefits of exercising in the natural environment. Through his role as strategic health advisor at Natural England, William created and launched the Natural Health Service in 2009. He currently chairs the Physical Activity Alliance and is senior lecturer at the Peninsula Medical School. William set up the world’s first commercial Health Forecasting Unit at the UK Met Office, a system that predicts levels of hospital admissions using atmospheric variables. This work inspired and lead to the creation of the Walking the Way to Health initiative which promotes the health benefits of group walks and William subsequently launched the Blue and Green Gyms. These three schemes alone have helped over one million people become active, just using their local environment. William was appointed MBE in January 2010.