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Friday, March 4, 2011

Why support the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade?

March 4, 2011 

Dear Friends of Our Parks, 

Every great community has a great park system: Boston, Chicago, New York, Seattle and Miami-Dade. We are lucky to have one of the most unique and diverse park and recreation systems in the world and I would like to share some of those features that make ours unique: 

The accredited Miami-Dade Park & Recreation Department is the third largest county park system in the country: 263 parks; 12,848 acres of land; serving 2.5 million residents; and 10 million annual visitors. The quality of its facilities, programs and services have been recognized with the NRPA's National Gold Medal Award and the Florida Governor's Sterling Award for excellence in management and operations. Crandon and Haulover parks and their beaches, Greynolds and Amelia Earhart parks, Zoo Miami, the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, and Deering Estate at Cutler are just a few of Miami's gems comprising this impressive system. 

The Parks Department is improving the quality of life in Miami-Dade, transforming it into a more livable, enjoyable and sustainable place to live. Parks play a vital role in the community's health, environment, social well-being, and economic prosperity, daily. Everyone has a memory of a great experience in a park from the last family picnic to the "big game" that created bragging rights, and even the good times spent at the beach building sand castles. 

Here are some of the ways our parks and recreational programs are essential to this community: 

Health and Social Benefits for Kids and Adults: Over the last two decades overweight adolescence nationwide has doubled according to the Center for Disease Control (Miami Herald, Feb. 2, 2010). According to research by the Miami-Dade County Children's Trust, local students trail the nation in physical exercise. The Parks Department aggressively addresses this problem, offering its Fit To Play Program, after school and in summer at 50 recreation centers throughout the county, that teaches kids about healthy nutrition and gets them physically active. We create healthy habits. 

While working parents aren't home to supervise their kids, Miami-Dade Parks programs provide juveniles with fun, wholesome activities to participate in during the critical 3-6 p.m. hours, when school-age kids are most likely to commit or be victimized by crime; to smoke, drink or use drugs; or to get involved in gang-related activity. According to the Census Bureau, at least 7 million children go home to an empty house after school, because their communities do not offer affordable out-of-school programs. 

As Marjory Stoneman Douglas properly observed: "Child welfare ought really to cover all sorts of topics, such as better water and sanitation and good roads, and clean streets and public parks and playgrounds". 

Adults need recreation, social interaction and relaxation to counteract the stresses of life and work. All three lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, control weight, anxiety and depression, according to a Curtin University of Australia survey. Benefits are amplified by safe, natural, tranquil settings like parks. 


Economic Benefits: Park and recreation facilities and associated operations in Miami-Dade County are responsible for creating nearly 10,000 jobs annually. Employment associated with park operations is expected to grow to 12,400 jobs by 2017, with 61 percent of those positions created in the private market, as the benefits of having an expanded park network come to fruition and population grows. 

· In 2009, local, state and national parks, including Miami-Dade's, pumped more than $200 million in operating expenditure into the community. This is projected to grow to almost $300 million by 2017. Local businesses from landscaping companies to sporting goods stores, and architectural firms to construction companies, benefit from this investment made in the County's facilities and programs. 
· Investing in residential area parks and open spaces leads to increased neighborhood property values. A recent study of the economic impacts of parks in Philadelphia estimated that there was a 5% increase (5% value multiplier) for homes within 500 feet of parks that were one acre or larger. 

The Parks Department receives 3.51% of the County budget and spends the majority funding local jobs and providing services to residents. 

Stay tuned for more important information about your Park System. Meanwhile, go to our website to learn more about all of these great activities and more at miamidade.gov/parks. We guarantee you'll find something fun and exciting to experience and explore.


Please join us for our next "Come out for Play" social and fundraiser. Click here to visit the invitation on Facebook. 

Warmest regards, 
Jorge Luis Lopez
Founding Chairman
The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade 


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