Virginia Association for Parks wrote -
Virginia State Parks are perennially among the top-rated in the country, but most parks were developed many years ago and not designed for modern challenges and changing conditions. A growing disconnect between children and nature is occurring, as today's children spend over 90% of their time indoors, often focused on electronic devices. Research shows that lack of nature contributes to diminished use of senses, obesity, attention difficulties, and more illness. In response, Virginia SmartParks will identify pathways and modern tools to connect more people to the enriching natural experiences available in Virginia State Parks.
Understanding the Challenges
Modern parks must incorporate technology to refresh and expand user experiences. Changing populations near parks demand different types of programming, but current information systems must be reconfigured to identify and respond to the unique characteristics of local populations. Parks can benefit from improved connectivity to communities, disadvantaged populations, and other visitor experiences to attract new users. We must also understand and respond to changing conditions in and around our parks for issues like urban growth and climate change.
SmartParks will revolutionize parks by creating vibrant recreation experiences and by developing pathways that connect more people to nature. The first step in this campaign is to secure funding to complete a study that identifies needs and opportunities, develops recommendations, and charts a roadmap for success. Some of the ways a study could help include looking at the following SmartParks opportunities:
- SmartParks use data & technology to optimize parks
- SmartParks engage visitors in fresh, meaningful ways
- SmartParks promote healthy communities
- SmartParks connect disadvantaged populations
- SmartParks respond to climate and other stressors
- SmartParks identify supporting policies & funding
Funding for Parks
Funding for parks is a major challenge. Virginia State Parks have an annual economic impact of over $200 million, but park investments rarely compete well at the state level, and only receive a fraction of that amount for park operations. A SmartParks campaign will identify innovative pathways and partnerships to bridge significant funding gaps. Moreover, we seek to identify long-term park partnerships that will provide for shared investments with local communities to leverage resources.
We need your Help!
Please consider donating to this important campaign for Virginia SmartParks! There are significant opportunities, but much work and more funding is necessary. We want to revolutionize parks in modern ways that will reach more people and respond to today’s growing challenges.
Virginia Association for Parks is a 501(c)3 organization and donations are tax deductable. Please consult your tax advisor.