Local parks build social capital

Published Tue 05 Sep 2017

In communities across Australia they come. Children, babies, young people and adults, couples, families and friends, all heading towards their local park, playground or open space. Some come to play, some to enjoy regular exercise, others just to slow down and enjoy being outdoors. 

Local parks build social capital Parks, playgrounds and open spaces provide safe, local destinations for people to walk, cycle and be active. Being outdoors in nature can be restorative, reduce stress and increase feelings of wellbeing. For children and young families, playgrounds provide a place to meet new friends and have fun with physical and social play. Outdoor physical activity, exploring and getting dirty are vital for growth and development and lay the foundation for a healthy and active life. 

The benefits of such simple everyday activities extend much further than you would think. The magic happens when people meet and greet one another, talk about the weather or footy, or join in a game. As they connect with one another, they are in the process of building something called social capital.

Researchers have established that social capital is as important as economic capital for successful communities.  When the people of a given community get to know each other and get together occasionally for fun, exercise or social contact they are not only enjoying the experience individually, they are actually increasing the quality of life in their community.

Warralily has been designed to encourage an active, healthy, connected community with 30kms of walking and cycling paths and more than 82 hectares of public open space. Warralily’s newest four-hectare playground, Mirambeena Park, is a fantastic community asset that has something for everyone including a flying fox, spinning hammocks and swings, a massive sandpit, basketball/netball zones and a village green/kick-about oval for ball sports and community events, as well as barbecues, picnic tables, toilets, baby-changing and much more.

The name given to the park by Wadawurrung elder Bryon Powell acknowledges the proud indigenous history of the area while celebrating its renewal as Warralily grows. Mirambeena means ‘this is our place’.  Everyone who plays here, exercises here, walks here and talks here are making the place their own and in doing so, they are building social capital. 

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