Designing Outreach for the Champaign Park District to Engage Underserved Groups

1/19/2022 5:11:00 AM

Champaign Park District logoAcademic mentor: Warren Lavey

Community partner: Champaign Park District

Project description: 
Community parks and programs for recreation and cultural arts promote individual physical and mental health, provide environmental benefits, strengthen communities, and make cities more attractive places to live and work. Studies have found that green spaces and park activities add to property values; reduce urban heat islands and flooding; conserve biodiversity; provide educational opportunities; promote well-being for people of all ages, genders, races, and incomes; and more.

The Champaign Park District (CPD) seeks to connect residents to a vibrant community of people and opportunities. Its mission is to enhance the community's quality of life through positive experiences in parks, recreation, and cultural arts. CPD's 62 parks total over 700 acres, and its fourteen facilities are available for a wide variety of recreational opportunities. It has been recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association.

While CPD attempts to serve and meet the needs of all residents, it recognizes that there may be opportunities for it to improve the experiences of some groups and individuals. To obtain guidance from residents about the strengths and weaknesses of its offerings and ideas for changes, CPD seeks to design and implement a survey to engage a wide variety of people in the community. In particular, there are some types of individuals who in the past have been underrepresented in responding to CPD's questionnaires and difficult to reach.

Role of the Community-Academic Scholar:
The Community-Academic Scholar will research and describe the benefits of the CPD facilities and programs for various types of community residents. They will work with CPD staff to identify gaps in information on residents' uses, benefits, and needs from CPD facilities and programs and design a survey and implementation strategy to reach various types of residents.

The scholar may also assist in filing for IRB approval for the project.

Based on the scholar’s findings after implementing the survey and analyzing responses, they will develop recommendations for CPD information collection, facilities, and programs, and present findings to CPD leadership and staff.