“Parks and playgrounds are the soul of a city.” 

― Marty Rubin

KICS in the Park focuses on our VALUE and belief that parks are a crucial part of any community. They have a significant impact on the development of children and the happiness of everyone in the neighborhood. KICS consistently works with the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Park Advisory Councils, local politicians and other stakeholders to improve and develop parks, playing fields and facilities for Chicago youth and families. One great success story has been the transformation of Dunbar Park over the last 10 years from a rarely used and heavily abused public space, into a vibrant park that is now busy 7 days a week. As part of our strategic plan, KICS aims to develop both an indoor and outdoor facility by 2021 in the Near South or Near West neighborhoods of Chicago to advance our programming and mission.   

Here’s why parks are important to our neighborhoods—and why KICS aims to actively improve opportunities to develop our park network.

1.     Community Parks provide space for neighborhood residents to interact with each other and meet new people. They’re also great spaces for events and for people to engage in recreational activities. This allows people to develop a sense of community. Parks can provide a perfect venue for sports, a picnic, a concert, or a farmer’s market—whatever a community feels it needs.

2.     Studies show that increasing the number of parks and recreational facilities in a neighborhood also reduces crime rates, especially among youth. By giving young people a safe place to interact with one another they keep them off the streets and out of trouble. For example, keeping parks and community centers open late can drastically reduce youth crime rates. Similarly, when parks are used by many people, there are more eyes on the street, creating a safer environment for everyone.

3.     A place for physical activity and play. Parks make a neighborhood more enjoyable to walk through and provide space for popular sports, encouraging physical activities. They provide sports fields, playgrounds and other amenities designed to get people active. This is incredibly important, especially for low income families and others who may not have access to other facilities.

4.     Being outdoors is good for mental health.  Studies have found that even ten minutes in a park or urban woodland area could tangibly reduce stress.

5.     A place for kids to be outside. Being outside and playing in nature is crucial for the healthy development of children. Learning to play in nature improves hand eye co-ordination. Regular time in nature also improves the child’s ability to learn and reduces symptoms of ADHD, training the brain to focus better. Children who spend a significant amount of time in nature also experience better emotional stability and improved mental health. Parks also provide great opportunities for parents to bond with children, for families to spend quality time together and for children to make new friends in the neighborhood.