Accessible exercise: improving parks and recreation in the city of Pontiac
Parks and Recreation Master Plans help communities identify and prioritize recreational needs for diverse populations. This project contributed to redevelopment of the city of Pontiac's Parks Plan by recording geographic and pictorial information in twelve parks for use in identifying barriers to accessibility affecting residents with physical disabilities. The parks were selected using existing disability and lifestyle data, council district location, and size. Facilities were assessed with a GPS device and geographic information system (GIS) software. Accessibility features were photographed, assigned location information, and organized into a comprehensive map. Multiple barriers were discovered, including uneven or non-unitary ground surfaces and a complete absence of accessible restrooms, parking, and pathways in 100% of parks assessed. These findings will be integrated into redevelopment of the Pontiac Parks Plan. Proposed short-term solutions included improved grass maintenance, pathway clearing, and redesigning parking areas to improve access for those with disabilities. Long-term proposals included play areas with unitary ground surfaces, new pathways to connect existing park facilities, and restoring restroom facilities. Integrating these solutions into Master Plans will encourage and enable Pontiac’s disabled population to use the park system, leading to a higher number of physically active residents with improved health status.
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