The Chicago Tribune describes the nearly crazed demand for the Chicago Park District’s recreational programming.
Th article indicates that a rush to get into classes was happening in “thousands of homes across the city Monday, as parents frantically attempted to get their children into the 10-week spring classes including gymnastics ($47), basketball ($20) and children’s theater ($12) offered at bargain prices compared to those charged by private gyms and activity centers.”
According to the park officials, the popularity of park programs is at an all-time high, with some classes filling up a second after on-line registration begins — something only otherwise seen in the sale of hot musical act tickets.
The article reports that 40,000 kids enrolling in programs at 228 city parks each season. One parent notes that “the Park District program is so worth it, and it’s the only thing we can afford,” going on to say that a $28 swim class is a lot better than $200 at DePaul University.
This is exactly the great kind of economic value that city parks provide to residents, and in turn allow for a healthier citizenry. In Chicago, this is something deeply rooted in the city’s history, partly through Jane Addams Hull House and a strong recreation program. Aside from the financial benefit provided through these affordable programs, they allow kids to be more physically active. With obesity at an alarming rate, the success of the Chicago programs may be one thing to look at more in depth.