Many clichés place the blame for violence in the community on the shoulders of youth culture – the music kids listen to, the video games they play, etc. But the most immediate influence on young people is the community in which they find themselves. A lack of opportunities to stay active in and engaged with the community means more opportunities for crime, drugs, violence, and other forms of “anti-social behaviour.”
Parks and recreation facilities play leading roles in curbing this behaviour because they give people more chances to play sports and exercise at no cost to them. A lot of research also suggests that when people are getting exercise, they’re happier!
How Physical Fitness Makes People Happier
Exercise increases the levels of chemicals created by the central nervous system and pituitary gland that make us feel happier and more confident. These include endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid, and on top of the added happiness, these chemicals can also reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Young people need to be physically active for healthy mental development, too!
For communities, this means making the facilities needed for physical fitness low or no cost to the people living around them. This way, they can reduce the barriers for lower-income people who want to exercise. Public multi-use sports courts and concrete versions of games like cornhole and ping-pong hold up to usage by the public and ensure everyone has equitable access to the sports they love!
For some more insight, Let’s take a look at Germany, the home country of X CRAFT’s founder. In 2018, roughly 70 percent of children and adolescents were members of sports clubs. Most cities and communities around Germany have infrastructures that help people of all ages get the right amount of physical activity per day, including dedicated bicycle lanes, public playgrounds, parks, and football fields. As such, the attitude changes, too: 75 percent of German parents are comfortable with their children playing outside without supervision. This is one way they impart important life skills and independence to the next generation!
Physical Fitness Gives Life Skills Too!
Strengthening the life skills of youth minimizes risk factors and maximize protective factors related to crime, violence and drug use. Public sports offers people an opportunity to build important life skills, letting youth who are at-risk cope with their unique daily challenges. Communities can have an impact by making public spaces and sports equipment widely available to the people in their community!
These pieces give people the right access to the equipment they need to develop life skills. It’s beyond the physical skills required to play a sport well: research shows that when people need educational or employment opportunities, they often feel purposeless and bored. In the United Kingdom, for instance, seven out of ten parents and their teenagers say that boredom is a direct cause of anti-social behaviour!
There are many emotional benefits to the skills learned on the field or court. Young people can develop better ways to cope with the highs and lows of life as they learn to lose graciously. It teaches them how to bounce back from disappointment, handle unpleasant experiences, and control their emotions. Sports also help people develop patience and the resilience needed to go through practice so as to improve their physical skills.
But it’s not just about the individual: sports help young people develop many social skills, cooperation, teamwork, and listening to others. All this can have a real impact on how they see others and their community as they grow up. Public sports facilities and equipment make this improved sense of purpose and meaning easier find, and they are less likely to pursue crime as a result!