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Relationship Between Attitudes Toward Rural Community Parks and Recreation and Rural Community Satisfaction

Laura L. Payne, Nathan A. Schaumleffel

Abstract


The development of municipal parks and recreation was founded in part on the belief that recreation and parks is an effective vehicle to facilitate the transition from rural to urban life. However, current rural trends in the Midwest (e.g., population out-migration, substance use/ abuse, increasing racial/ethnic diversity) warrant the development of a social intervention tool such as rural community parks and recreation (RCPR; i.e., nonprofit and/or public services) to improve the quality of life of residents still living in rural communities. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between selected personal characteristics (i.e., education level, involvement in civic/social organizations, age) and attitudes toward RCPR development and to better understand the relationship between attitudes toward RCPR and community satisfaction. A questionnaire was mailed to 600 households in 12 rural Illinois communities (i.e., towns with populations of approximately 7,000 residents or less); 250 adults responded (42%). The nonprobability sample was mostly female (89%), between the ages of 35 and 44 (54%), and reported living in the town an average of 18 years (sd=13.11). Attitudes toward RCPR development were measured with 12 items. A composite community satisfaction score was computed by calculating the mean score reliability analysis, which yielded an acceptable alpha rating of .87. The first research question examined the relationship between personal characteristics and attitudes toward RCPR. Kruskal-Wallis tests revealed four statistically significant relationships between personal characteristics and attitudes toward recreation and park development. Consequently, a series of one-way ANOVAS were run. Results indicated a significant positive relationship between education level and the attitude that it is important for our community to have access to walking trails and parks. Age was significantly and negatively associated with the attitude that it is important our community have access to walking trails and parks. There was also a significant relationship between involvement in civic/social organizations and being unsatisfied with the quality of programs/activities offered by the city and satisfaction with the recreational opportunities offered by the respondents’ community. For the second research question, two of the items used to measure RCPR attitudes were significantly associated with community satisfaction: 1) my community is responsive to the recreational needs of the community (p<.05); and 2) there are enough safe places to walk in this community p<.01). The overall regression model explained 15.0% of the variance in community satisfaction. In summary, findings indicated the belief that the respondents’ community is responsive to their recreational needs was a significant predictor of community satisfaction. This finding also suggests that RCPR is an important component of community quality of life and reinforces the need for community recreation development in rural communities.?

Keywords


community satisfaction, personal characteristics, attitudes toward community parks and recreation, rural communities

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