LEISURE ACTIVITIES, PARKS AND GREENSPACE ARE ESSENTIAL TO OUR PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL , SOCIAL, AND SPIRITUAL WELL BEING , TO OUR QUALITY OF LIFE, TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND OUR ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY
Those of us who work or volunteer in the fields of recreation, arts, culture, heritage, environment, parks and sport have always known the activities and programs we run are a means to a bigger end result or outcome – the improved health of our population and communities.
The Benefits Hub is designed to support this belief and reignite a ‘benefits movement' through the provision of evidence based research intended to remind ourselves, our communities and our national, provincial and municipal decision makers, of the importance of the recreation and leisure sector and the important outcomes we deliver.
Background and Purpose
In 1991 the Rethink Group, in conjunction with Participaction, produced the original Catalogue of the Benefits of Recreation for the Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario (now Parks and Recreation Ontario - PRO) sharing research evidence related to four categories: personal, social, economic and environmental benefits. In 992, with financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation the Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario expanded the Benefits Catalogue. In 1997, PRO, in partnership with the Canadian Parks/Recreation Association (CPRA) and with financial support provided by Health Canada updated this work creating eight marketing messages, supported by the evidence that articulated contributions of Recreation, Sports, Fitness, Arts, Culture and Parks nothing they:
- Are essential to personal health as active living is a key determinant of health status.
- Are key to balanced human development
- Are essential to quality of life and place
- Reduce self-destructive and anti-social behaviour
- Build strong families and healthy communities
- Reduce health care, social service, and police/justice costs!
- Are significant economic generators in your community!
- Parks, open spaces, and natural areas are 'Greenspace' essential to well being and our environmental psychological survival
In 2009 through a partnership between ARPA (Alberta Recreation and Parks Association) and CPRA the Catalogue was transformed into the Benefits Hub , an online research repository offering:
- Over 1000 evidence based references related to all categories of service
- Visitor access to encourage the self-uploading of research consideration
- Links to Program Success stories which demonstrate the benefits in action
Funding and in-kind support was provided by the Rural Alberta Development Fund (RADF), Encana, Cenovus Energy, and Canwest Media
Types and Sources of Research
The publication and source of data collected in the Benefits Hub varies significantly and includes the following types of publications:
- Scientific Journals: Refereed or peer-reviewed, serialized, or periodical publication are all classified as "academic".
- Conference Proceedings: Papers presented and published in proceedings of scientific professional conference, conventions, symposia and workshops.
- Published Reports and Monographs: Description of studies, assessments or inquiries that are separately published and available from sponsoring organizations.
- Books and Book Chapters: Reference and books on related subjects and chapters therein.
- Theses and Dissertations: Abstracts of theses and dissertations available from the host institutions.
- Published and Unpublished Papers from "academic" sources: Also documents from miscellaneous sources and noted as “Grey” literature.
- Trade Journals and Popular Magazines: Publications for trade or general audiences that include facts, findings, ideas and opinions on the subject of benefits.
The focus has continued to be placed on identifying and quoting from primary sources to provide a summary form of the research evidence. Secondary sources, theory or anecdotal evidence were used where appropriate.