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Blog: Come July, Your Parks Will Get Rocked

With all the attention paid to glitz in our industry - new multipurpose rec centers, high-end health clubs and even glittering new high school facilities - we occasionally forget that some great opportunities for recreation are right in our own backyard.

The National Recreation and Park Association is looking to capitalize on opportunities for kids to get a taste of the great outdoors in local parks, particularly at a time when people are still being cautious with their money and perhaps not taking a long or expensive vacation. The Rock Your Park initiative will be held this July, which since 1985 has been celebrated as Parks and Recreation Month. This year, July will have five weekends, and NRPA is encouraging families, singles and everyone in between to pledge to "Take the Five," and spend each weekend exploring various aspects of their local parks: nature trails, ball fields, playgrounds, swimming pools and more.

Just to prove they're dialed in with the younger generation, NRPA has also instituted the 2011 Rock Your Park Flash Mob Contest. Contestants can use YouTube to capture a flash mob performance that demonstrates the power of parks and rec. One municipal agency and one citizens' group will be chosen as winners.

With the end of school only a few weeks away, it's important to build the excitement now for the programs that can help coax kids outside, and away from TVs, computers, game systems and other sedentary pursuits. The good news? Like parks themselves, the tools are free, and readily available. The website for the initiative has information on the contest, pledge and more. A marketing tool kit is also available for download. Bonus points to NRPA for including an official "Rock Your Park" social media poster. The message being sent is clear: Parks are more than places to sit on benches and feed pigeons; they're outdoor fitness facilities with endless possibilities.

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