Blog: Bryan Farmer

Did you know that parks and open space comprise 38 percent of London's footprint? Successful cities know green means a better quality of life and a healthier population. Bryan Farmer, recreation superintendent for the city of Farmington Hills, blogs about next week's No Child Left Inside Summit and the city's commitment to outdoor programming.

Post 1: Societal Change: It's Simple

In order to make things happen, it's best to partner up.  Through my experiences in creating events, developing fresh programs or building new facilities, it's never done alone.  Collaboration is key and vision helps.

Think back.  What was your most memorable outdoor experience growing up? Now, what will this generation of youth say when asked the same question 20 years from now?

We hear it everywhere, from teachers, doctors, reporters, and parents – kids, and people in general, spend too much time in front of the computer, watching TV, not getting outside like their parents used to.  Is it too far fetched to say that we can change society?  I don't think so.  It's quite simple. 

Everybody, GO OUTSIDE!  

Now, the question: What's the point? (Up in the Air, 2009, think about it) The point is, stronger bones, lower cancer risk – not getting enough sun causes people to become Vitamin D deficient, causing health risks.  Being non-active is one cause of obesity and diabetes.  Outdoor activity reduces stress and depression.  People who stare at the TV and video games have less patience and shorter attention spans (hmm Attention Deficit Disorder)  Isn't recess shorter these days? Yes.  What do you do when you get home from work?  What do kids do when they get home from school?  Do middle schools have a playground?

Hopefully you get the point. We were not born to spend 99 percent of our lives indoors and the only time we go outside is to get from here to there.  I recently read that there is a growing concern that this generation of children may be the first in two centuries to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, fueled by the childhood obesity epidemic and other health conditions experienced by this generation of "indoor kids."  Could this generation be destined to live many less hours, with many more of those precious hours spent staring at screens? Don't get me wrong, technology is good, but getting outside is vital.

So, what do you do outside?  Other than eating a nice meal at one of your favorite restaurants that provides outdoor seating, many communities have parks, programs, and events available for everyone to participate in.  And thanks to that restaurant that provides outdoor seating, they often partner up or sponsor Department of Special Services programs and events.  Many programs are free and/or have a nominal fee to cover costs.  Believe me, your CPRP isn't in it to make money.  That was reiterated more than once while going through college to get a Bachelors Degree in Parks and Recreation Management.  

Farmington Hills is a unique community to live and work in.  The landscape and design of the community combines wooded areas and ravines with beautiful homes and businesses all mixed in to provide a city with both a rural and a suburban feel.   Add in the parks, the people, and the programs, and you have a community everyone would want to live in.  Farmington Hills offers over 3,000 programs and events each year and is comprised of over 628 acres of parkland.

Farmington Hills is making an effort toward Societal Change and helping to get more people outside.  On March 22, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., a No Child Left Inside Summit will take place at the Costick Center in Farmington Hills.  We are asking everyone to attend the Summit, including groups like the Farmington Area Moms Club, day care providers, Scout troops, city commissions, health care providers, youth council members, faith organizations, school administrators and teachers, parents, children, and others.  Farmington Hills Special Services is making a point to provide more experiences for children and adults to get outside.  With the help of Elizabeth Goodenough, advisor on the PBS documentary Where Do the Children Play?, the Summit on March 22 is just the beginning of the process toward getting people “outside.”  

Farmington Hills Special Services is making it as easy as possible for children and adults to get outside.  Each year over 2,500 children participate in Summer Camps. REGISTER ONLINE!  Licensed Day Camps are offered throughout the entire summer in various settings (Heritage Park, Costick Center, Ice Arena), while art, sports, and other specialty camps take place throughout the season.  Events like Hay Day, the Marshmallow Fly & Fry, and the Great Farmington Hills Campout have hosted thousands of people each year, and are specifically designed to get people outdoors.  

Facilities like Riley Skate Park, the Farm Disc Golf Course, the Heritage Park Nature Center, and others provide top quality experiences for outdoor activity.  In 2010, Farmington Hills Special Services will unveil a new Splash Pad, host many new programs through the Heritage Park Nature Center, will become the place in the metro area for Hay Rides, and help lead adults and children down the path of a new way of life.  

We are doing our job towards the societal change of getting people outdoors.  We need your help.  Spread the word, help reduce health care costs, and get outside.