St. George Mayor Jon Pike proclaimed July as Park and Recreation Month during the July 9 City Council meeting, mirroring the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month established in 1985.

“Parks and recreation programs build healthy, active communities that aid in the prevention of chronic disease, provide therapeutic recreation services for those who are mentally or physically disabled and also improve the mental and emotional health of all citizens,” Pike said as he read from the proclamation.

“Parks and recreation programs increase a community’s economic prosperity through increased property values, expansion of the local tax base, increased tourism, the attraction and retention of businesses and crime reduction.”

The proclamation acknowledges the powerful role local park and recreation professionals play in conservation, health and well-being efforts in our community. It also encourages people to go outside.

A study conducted for the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) found that 3 in 10 U.S. adults do not spend time outdoors daily.

“The services that park and recreation professionals provide are vital for our communities,” said Shane McAffee, Director of Leisure Services for the City of St. George.

“They range from protecting open space and natural resources, to providing fitness programs, and, recently, providing essential services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Park and Recreation Month encourages everyone to reflect on the enormous value park and recreation services bring to communities such as ours.”

Despite the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused many City events to be cancelled during March, April and May, the Leisure Services department was innovative in creating new events and initiatives compatible with slowing the spread of COVID-19.

In April, staff launched the “Stay Brighter Campaign,” which encouraged residents to devote 20 minutes each day to staying active, smart and kind. In May, St. George Races introduced the three-month Virtual Mileage Series.

Instead of hundreds of people gathering in one spot and potentially increasing novel coronavirus spread, participants were asked to log their miles accumulated running, walking or biking.

Participants then received a finisher medal, branded face masks and milestone buttons via U.S. mail at the end of each month.

“We pride ourselves in adapting to challenges,” McAffee said. “I am proud of our staff for rising to the occasion, providing the best possible services for our residents.”

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