Philadelphia has the largest in-city park system in the world, which can serve as a tremendous resource for social interaction, relaxation and recreation. Yet 72% of older Philadelphians report they had not gone to a public recreation facility in the past year. link
Philadelphia's findings are not an aberration. A Rand Corporation study found that seniors seldom use Los Angeles parks.link
Why are seniors not using parks? One possibility comes from the authors of the book People Places they said "The natural environment of a park is not enough to attract some elderly users, but a park with many activities can simulate social exchange and provide a sense of belonging" link
Seniors are not the only groups with issues that cause them not to use parks...
Overall this is a great facility I just wish the community would use it for more activities other than the one concert in the park they have every summer because that's pretty much the only reason why I've ever gone here. link
I was visiting Manhattan's Union Square Park , I talked to a youth there who told me, “there's benches for seniors and a playground for the little kids but nothing for us.”
Sixteen-year-old D’En Vargas suggested a multi-use basketball court to his group — an idea that wasn’t so warmly received.
“Without that, a lot of teens won’t come — they go to the park to play sports. It would be uniting us with everybody else,” said Vargas, who lives in Queens but spends a lot of time at his grandmother’s in Chelsea.
“This is more of an older group, so my opinion is currently being shot down,” he confided later. “But I’m still fighting for it.”
Not all of his fellow parks enthusiasts came equipped with a special wish list, however.
Contemporary American playgrounds don’t hold or inspire older kids...More and more, preteens avoid the playground altogether, choosing instead to spend time indoors, most likely sitting in front of some kind of screen...What teen will go to the playground to play a game when he has better graphics at home on his computer or anywhere on his cell phone? The Science of Play
What I think is happening is that many of our parks subtly include and exclude use by many groups through the features they offer and do not offer. link
I was talking to a senior who uses a wheelchair, she asked me if I could let her know if there were any inclusive playgrounds in NYC. I asked her to define inclusive playground . She said a park that would have activities for her to participate in. I could not think of many parks in NYC that are inclusive for her.
On Further thinking I came up with a lot of "playgrounds" that might have activities to meet her needs
-the libraries in her neighborhood
-the senior centers in her neighborhood
-the college in her neighborhood that offer senior scholar programs.
So there are a good number of locations offering senior playspaces.... only they are not NYC parks
If a "park" offers enough activities to attract you to use it, then it is an inclusive park for you, if not it isn't. Doesn't matter if 1 or 10,000 other people find activities at that park that attract them to it, if it doesn't attract you, it fails your inclusion test.
Think, what features would a park need to offer for so that you would want to use it on a regular basis?