January 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 25

By erika
erica terl

PUBLI c H e ALtH

Not Your Father's Park and Rec
Creativity and collaboration as essential tools in serving
Baby Boomers and the senior population

P

arks and recreaTion is a Field that naturally embraces a holistic vision of

health. Park and recreation agencies create a culture and provide resources supportive of health and wellness, fulfi lling a vital human services role in
communities nationwide through activities and services for seniors and, in some cases, overseeing senior centers.

Agencies create inviting environments for physical
activity, access to nutritious foods and social services and events for all people, including older seniors
and also the baby boomer population who may not
think of themselves as " seniors. " As the baby boomers and older seniors increasingly access the programs and services offered by park and recreation
agencies, creativity in programming and collaboration across communities are keys to successfully
serving this population.
Baby boomers, people currently between the ages
of 47 and 65 years of age, now comprise one of the
largest generations in U.S. history, according to the
U.S. Census Bureau. These baby boomers started
turning 65 in 2011, and the numbers of older people
will increase dramatically during the 2010-2030 period. The older population in 2030 is projected to be
twice as large as their counterparts in 2000, growing
from 35 million to 72 million and representing nearly
20 percent of the total U.S. population.
Park and recreation professionals are proactively
working to meet the needs of this growing boomer
population while also keeping older senior users engaged. Park and recreation agencies know that they
are one of the best mechanisms for keeping people
active and connected to their communities and also
that staying active and connected can lessen the impact of the chronic illnesses associated with aging.
Dr. Ellen O'Sullivan, long-time park and recreation professional and president of Leisure Lifestyle
Consulting, perceives that " a challenge in involving
baby boomers is to not refer to them as 'seniors' or
offer programming in a facility that is called 'the senior center'. The designation 'senior' is fi ne for their

parent's generation but not at all for the 'don't trust
anyone over 30 years of age' cohort group that has
a focus upon being perceived as forever youthful. "
As the 50 plus manager for Johnson County Parks
and Recreation in Johnson County, Kansas, Rhonda Pollard reports that they indeed face the obstacle of the potential stigma of the word " senior. " In
an attempt to relate to more of their community, they
have become the " 50 Plus Department " and try not
to use the term " senior " in their programming. However, since the general perception is that the agency serves the seniors of the county, many adults are
reticent to be considered part of that group. Ergo,
Pollard feels that, " one of our biggest challenges is
to serve two separate populations - the boomers
and the true seniors. " To appeal to all ages, they've
refined and added programs that appeal to both
boomers and seniors, including structured physical activities. The agency has found that offering
more evening and weekend activities and services
draws in the 50 plus group-as many boomers still
work and will work longer than the generation before them.
In the city of Egan, Minnesota, Julie Johnson, director of Parks and Recreation, fi nds that their senior population reflects a group that is diverse in age,
economic status, and interests, and is also growing
significantly. Egan's population of persons 65+ doubled between 2000 and 2010 and is expected to double again by 2020, with the largest area of growth
among persons in the 50-62 age range. In anticipation of this, the park and recreation agency participated in a county-wide effort to gather information
about the needs of the older adult population through

A challenge
in involving
baby
boomers
is to not
refer to them
as 'seniors'
or offer
programming
in a facility
that is called
" the senior
center. "

w w w . N R P A . O R G    J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2    Parks

& Recreation

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January 2012 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January 2012 - Parks & Recreation

January 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 1
January 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 2
January 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 3
January 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 4
January 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 5
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January 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 25
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2018
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2017
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2015
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2014
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2014
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2013
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2013
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2013
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2010
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