2019 RECR 4400: Research Questions

How can West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) improve its programs and services to foster inclusiveness for physically disabled people? - Johnny Loglisci

My study aimed to identify the gaps and limitations in WSPR’s current programming and the consequent need for some programs to be expanded and additional programs to be created. Although the existing sledge-hockey program offered at WSPR is well received by many of the physically disabled patrons in the community (seen in the photo below), WSPR can make its other program offerings more inclusive by taking the following steps: (1) it can create an adapted strength and conditioning program in the weight room; (2) three new wheelchair sport activities—rugby, basketball, and handball—can be introduced, especially as many physically disabled patrons want more options to choice from rather than just sledge-hockey (with many physically disabled patrons not able to participate in sledge hockey because of the limitations of their hand gripping abilities); (3) a year-round outdoor recreation program can be established; (4) the existing children’s program can be made more inclusive and extended throughout the year; and (5) the existing social-dance program can be promoted and, if necessary, expanded. If the recommendations offered above are implemented, physically disabled individuals in the West Shore community will have a wider variety of accessible, inclusive activities to choose from and will reap the many rewards, such as improved mental and physical health, socialization, and personal growth and development, that participation in those activities provides.

Photo of myself in an adapted hockey sledge, as this was taken prior to my involvement in the sledge hockey program offered at WSPR, in which teams were comprised of able-bodied patrons and non-able-bodied patrons. An amazing experience!

What are the personal and community benefits of older adults volunteering? How do these volunteers improve the programs and events offered, and how can the City of Delta’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission increase volunteerism? - Colin Withers
 There area a wide variety of benefits that can derive from older adults volunteering and they are equally able to provide an effect on the person who is volunteering as well as the community. Personal benefits of Older Adults volunteerism can create personal benefits such as expanding social networks, removing social isolation, creating a deeper connection with the community and A higher quality of life satisfaction. (Volunteer Canada, 2013; Lum & Lightfoot, 2005) As volunteering gets to older adults out into the community, they can take part in opportunities that they may not have done prior, which allows for them to learn new skills and meet new people. Through taking part in different acts of volunteerism, it can provide them with increased self worth and help to provide additional meaning to their lives. The community benefits that derive from older adults taking part in volunteerism it can aid the City of Delta in creating trust, mutual respect and it aids in social cohesion amongst the community, (Volunteer Canada, 2013) as well as increasing “community cohesiveness, Canadian society and the economy” (Canadian Parks and Recreation Association., 2015 pg. 28) with the older adults taking part in volunteerism it allows for it to create a connection within communities, and this can really be seen through their actions, especially in larger special events such as the Tour de Delta. When you can have a large group of volunteers come together it can really help to foster a sense of pride and bring the community together. The primary and secondary research noted some areas where the City of Delta could improve an increase in volunteerism from older adults through five recommendations. Adding in a transportation aspect for those who are in need, as well as creating a detailed volunteer recruitment strategy focusing on the older adults age cohort. Creating detailed job descriptions can providing more meaningful opportunities, and volunteer recognition events highlight the impact that volunteers can provide. Lastly, creating a social component to the volunteering opportunities can aid in reduce social isolation and increase relationships with other volunteers and Parks Recreation and Culture Commission (PRCC) staff. Through these recommendations it will aid the City of Delta with increasing volunteerism amongst the older adults age cohort.
Canadian Parks and Recreation Association. (2015, January). A Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015: Pathways to Wellbeing. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57a2167acd0f68183878e305/t/5926efacebbd1a74b7b584d8/1495723950196/Framework+For+Recreation+In+Canada_2016+w+citation.pdf (List B)
Lum, T. Y., & Lightfoot, E. (2005). The Effects of Volunteering on the Physical and Mental Health of Older People. Research on Aging, 27(1), 31-55. doi:10.1177/0164027504271349) (List A)
Volunteer Canada. (2013). Volunteering and Older Adults. Retrieved fromhttps://volunteer.ca/vdemo/EngagingVolunteers_DOCS/Volunteering_and_Older_Adults_Final_Report_2013.pdf (List A)

How can engaging in recreation improve the mental health of ‘vulnerable populations’ suffering from mental illnesses? - Amy Cornish
Recreation has been proven to improve the mental health of those suffering from mental illnesses (Street, James, & Cutt, 2007), and within the past 20 years, further research has been focused on understanding the use of recreation on improving the mental health of those considered ‘vulnerable populations’ afflicted with mental illnesses (Iwasaki, Coyle, & Shank, 2010). As understood through scholarly studies, participants of this specific population engaging in recreation were able to reduce anxiety, reduce symptoms of depression (Iwasaki, Coyle, & Shank, 2010), but also increase feelings of personal fulfilment (Fenton et.al., 2017). Primary and secondary research methods were employed to fully answer the research question, which both explained that the engagement in the leisure activity provided the participant with a sense of purpose which therefore increases confidence, self-esteem, communication and overall well-being (Fenton et al., 2017). Whether engaging in outdoor spaces (Jennings, Jelks, & Dills, 2018) or performing in a theatre troop (A Night at the Opera, 2005), research findings similar found that the participation in meaningful leisure activities provided a sense of clarity of, contentment and belief self. An important finding in relation to fully answering the research question is that it both primary and secondary research identified the importance that meaning holds within a recreation activity. Therefore, recreation professionals working with this population need to understand that not just any recreation program can leave participants with mental health benefits. Rather meaning must either be established at some point during the activity duration in order for the participant to establish a sense of trust to then raise their level of engagement, to be at an emotional and mental level where the mentioned health benefits can occur. 
Attached please find a photo of my Vancouver Street Soccer League team and I participating in a friendly indoor soccer tournament this past March. The process of research my topic has taught me so much more about this population in general and the benefits that recreation can provide, which I truly believe will make me a better coach, volunteer and advocate.
A Night at the Opera. (2005). Mental Health Today (Brighton, England),10-11. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/home
Fenton, White, Gallant, Gilbert, Hutchinson, Hamilton-Hinch, & Lauckner. (2017). The Benefits of Recreation for the Recovery and Social Inclusion of Individuals with Mental Illness: An Integrative Review. Leisure Science, 39,1-19. Doi: 10.1080/01490400.2015.1120168.
Iwasaki, Coyle, & Shank. (2010). Leisure as a context for active living, recover, health and life quality for persons with mental illness in a global context. Health Promotion International, 25, 483-494. Doi:10.1093/heapro/daq037 
Jennings, Jelks, & Dills. (2018). Parks and Health Equity: An Avenue to Support the Health and Wellness for All. Parks & Recreation.Retrieved from https://www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2018/november/parks-and-health-equity-an-avenue-to-support-health-and-wellness-for-all/
Street, James, & Cutt. (2007). The relationship between organized physical recreation and mental health. Health Promotion Journal Australia, 18, 236-9. Doi: 10.1071/HE07236 

 What are the mental health benefits of recreation programs and services for seniors and how can New Westminster Parks and Recreation improve their programs and services to support seniors with mental health issues? - Ryan Weber
For this research topic, the following areas of literature were review: seniors, mental well-being and recreation or leisure.  Even though gaps and deficiencies exist within this review, several resources provided a solid foundation in defining these key terms.  A primary research plan was implemented using three methods: informal interviews, content analysis, and observations from a “general public status”.  These methods along with a field review focused on the current state of the City of New Westminster’s program and service landscape as it relates to mental health and mental well-being for seniors.  Through this research it was found that mental health plans an unfortunate but prominent role in the lives of seniors.  Mental health affects 40% of the population in Canada above the age of 40 years (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2019); of these mental health illnesses depression is the highest.  The greatest contributor to poor health of a senior – both physical and mental – is isolation, caused by lose of motivation and companionship (Hwang, J, Wang, L., & Jones, C., ).  Recreation and leisure has been proven to positively benefit the mental health and well-being of all age categories, with expanded benefits to seniors (Street, et al., 2007).  Five recommendations were provided on how to best improve on programs and services for seniors and their mental health benefit.  These recommendations provided to the City of New Westminster include an outreach recreation referral program, expanded mental and emotional health programming, and the addition of a neighborhood transport system.  These proposed concepts provide New Westminster staff the opportunity to continue their current trend of positive program growth, while discovering new areas and approaches to connecting seniors with mental health beneficially programming.
Century House - Fitness Group
Jiyoung Hwang, Wang, L., & Jones, C. (2016). Tackling social isolation and loneliness through community exercise programs for seniors. UBC Medical Journal, 8(1), 40–41. Retrieved from https://login.ezproxy.langara.bc.ca/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.langara.bc.ca/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117888944&site=eds-live&scope=site
Mental Health Commission of Canada (2019).  Seniors. Retrieved from https://www.mhfa.ca/en/course-type/seniors
Street, G., James, R., & Cutt, H. (2007). The relationship between organised physical recreation and mental health. Health Promotion Journal of Australia: Official Journal Of Australian Association Of Health Promotion Professionals, 18(3), 236–239. Retrieved from https://login.ezproxy.langara.bc.ca/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cmedm&AN=18201167&site=eds-live&scope=site

How do garden programs improve the social wellbeing of a community and how is the West Point Grey Community Centre fostering social wellbeing through offering these programs? - Kelley Hindley
Garden programs improve the social wellbeing of a community through a variety of avenues, such as connecting people to nature, encouraging community relationships between neighbours, improving safety in the community, offering therapeutic spaces to heal, providing intergenerational connections and providing people with a sense of achievement and personal growth. Social wellbeing is achieved through gardening programs because they provide copious benefits to individuals including cultivating skills that create connections within the community (Shinew et al., 2005). The more that these relationships are fostered through small interactions, the more likely individuals are going to take part in community events, which provide people with the chance to interact with a wider variety of people than usual (Cooper, 2015).
A community’s social wellbeing is improved through gardening programs in recreation by creating opportunities to cultivate healthy and thriving communities.  I believe the community of West Point Grey is fostering social wellbeing through offering gardening workshops and programs by making connections with community groups such as Village Vancouver who have driven and passionate instructors that nurture wellbeing. This wellbeing transcends to the entire community, and it is evident that through West Point Grey Community Centre’s marketing in their brochure and website that they are promoting garden education and participation. West Point Grey Community Centre has done this by using inclusive language to encourage people to garden, and providing a variety of programs and outlets for all ages to participate. 
The literature supports the idea that recreational gardening is an important tool to improving the wellbeing of a community. 

This is me, in my own neighbourhood's community garden! I have never participated before - but now after learning the benefits I am excited to help out this summer. I am holding my (growing) garlic that Rhiannon gave us at the first workshop I observed! 
Cooper, H. (2015). The dirt on gardening: 6 surprising health benefits. Alive Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.alive.com/lifestyle/the-dirt-on-gardening/
Shinew, K.J., Glover, T.D., & Parry, D.C. (2005). Association, sociability, and civic culture: the democratic effect of community gardening. Journal of Leisure Sciences, 27, 75–92, DOI: 10.1080/01490400590886060 

How can the City of New Westminster’s Parks and Recreation Department expand its outdoor recreation programs to address mental health issues for children and youth? - Matt Randhawa
Throughout this research project I found many different ways of possibly answering this question. People are more aware of mental health issues (Bell Canada, 2015) and can encourage people to find new ways to improve their mental health. Through working with my agency advisor we both believed that working on a way to educate people of the mental health benefits of participating in outdoor recreation was the best way to address this issue. The types of programs that can be implemented to help alleviate mental health issues that were discussed were “health talks” that make people more aware of mental health issues that exist, as well as educational programs that show people that there is an importance of participating in outdoor recreation. Going into this project, I was not fully aware of the positive mental health impacts of participating in outdoor recreation. With this knowledge I have found that I am more interested in participating in outdoor recreation. By educating community members of New Westminster of these benefits I am hoping to help encourage more people to spend time outdoors. Along with these educational programs, The City of New Westminster can implement other outdoor programs, like hiking, walking, and biking. These types of programs along with the educational programs can help enhance the quality of life for New Westminster community members. This is not only my goal as a recreation professional, but also a goal of the Parks and Recreation Department in the City of New Westminster. Overall, through this research project it was discovered that by educating community members and offering new programs that take place outdoors the New Westminster Parks and Recreation Department address mental health issues within the community.
Bell Canada (2015). Bell Let’s Talk: The first 5 years (2010-2015). Retrieved from https://letstalk.bell.ca/letstalkprogressreport

What financial barriers exist that prevent the residents of Maple Ridge from participating in recreation programs & services and what can the Maple Ridge Parks, Recreation, & Culture department do to reduce these barriers? - Daljit Sidhu 

 The Parks Recreation & Culture Department of the City of Maple Ridge has implemented financial assistance programs over the past decade due to the existing needs of its community residents. Financial assistance programs offer subsidies and services to help the residents of Maple Ridge participate in programs and services by removing the barriers of financial need. However, these existing subsidies, as well as other discount programs such as low-cost times, are simply not enough to tackle the greater issue of financial barriers that exist for the residents of Maple Ridge. The 50-75% off of programs and services offered is still too expensive for many individuals and families who require additional support such as subsidized child-care, transportation, as well as deeper discounts on programs, equipment fees, and other associated costs. Research has shown the numerous benefits of participating in sport and recreation. Participation in recreation is also a fundamental human right as per the Charter of Human Rights. Therefore, more creative programs and services must be developed for the provision of community health in the City of Maple Ridge. To assist in such financial assistance program development to improve the lives of its residents I made the following recommendations to the Parks Recreation & Culture Department of the City of Maple Ridge: a fulsome review of the current Participation Program analyzing the pros and cons of the program, planning and holding a organizational assessment review to determine the sentiments of current employees and recreation practitioners, a process change to the method of how residents apply for subsidies & assistance, new financial assistance programs that fill existing gaps such as revised senior discounts, and a regional/provincial subsidy discount program that allows single-entry drop-ins to all municipal recreational facilities. 


This is a picture of me standing outside of the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre in the City of Maple Ridge where I am working as a recreation programmer. My research project was found to be very useful and beneficial to the organization by the Manager of Recreation Christa Balatti. I will be presenting my research findings and recommendations at the next City of Maple Ridge manager's team meeting. I am very excited to be a part of this great cause.

How does the South Surrey Recreation and Arts Center engage and support youth within their community, and to what extent are the Developmental Assets® being practiced within their programs? - Djordje Leposavic

The South Surrey Recreation and Arts Center (SSRAC) offers many youth programs and services to youth in the South Surrey community. There are opportunities for youth to participate in various programs and activities, like different sports, arts and crafts, cooking classes etc., within the recreation center. I used the City of Surrey’sYouth Engagement Handbook as well as concept of 40 Developmental Assets to help guide me evaluate if the SSRAC is meeting their vision and goal for supporting youth in healthy, productive and positive growth, thru youth engagement in programs that the center offers. Through observing and documenting information collected about programs, I was able to identify which developmental assets are being fostered in the SSRAC programs, and which ones could better be practiced. One of the many ways SSRAC engages with youth in the community is by listening to youth needs and wants. They offer youth leadership opportunities through the Youth Engagement Programs (YEP) which enable youth to create and lead different programs and services within SSRAC as well as events throughout the City of Surrey. Allowing youth to run and create programs creates a sense of ownership and pride between the youth and their community. As for the youth and their developmental assets, the SSRAC is doing well at helping youth with developing their competencies. They encourage youth to participate in programs by making them free and creating a welcoming environment for the youth to attend. The SSRAC staff team also does school visits throughout the school year to try and get more youth involved and interested in recreation. Through my observation of three drop in programs at SSRAC, two programs (basketball drop in and youth dances) met 19 out of 40 developmental assets while the other (cooking drop in) met 20 out of 40 developmental assets. Youth are encouraged and welcomed to attend these various programs through City of Surrey online portals and through school visits. Overall SSRAC is doing a very good at engaging youth and helping them develop their competencies.

How does Burnaby Youth Services create opportunities for character development in youth? - Alexandra Radil
The City of Burnaby offers a wide range of programs to youth aged 10-18 years old, Burnaby Youth Services strives to engage youth in unique recreation and leisure opportunities that contribute to their development.  This applied major research was carried out to assist Burnaby Youth Services to better understand how they facilitate character development in the youth that they serve.  Both primary and secondary research was completed to answer the question of exactly how Burnaby Youth Services create opportunities for character development.  First, it became apparent that the City of Burnaby has good intentions for character development in developing their policies but doesn’t fully communicate these intentions to those who deliver or access the programming that flows from these policies.  Second, programs within Burnaby Youth Services do meet many of the criteria identified as supportive of youth development, but the intentionality of that fulfillment is questionable. Third, Burnaby Youth Services would benefit from a framework or structure that would guide their programming, which would simultaneously provide outcomes on which programs could be evaluated; Positive Youth Development (Lerner et al., 2005) and the 5Cs (Jones et al., 2005) are suggested as best practices that could be explicitly implemented in Burnaby Youth Services.  Finally, an update of official programs and policies would be timely as some of the documentation that guides Burnaby Youth Services’ decisions is over 20 years old.
Recommendations for improvement of current programming made from the summary of the applied major research project include: (1) Consider updates to existing policies and programs, (2) Expand staff professional development, (3) Focus on outcome-based evaluation, and (4) Seek out and meaningfully engage with community partners.
The shift from problem fixing to building resilience, strength and positive experiences for youth in recent years requires providers to re-envision many of their existing offerings, allowing for the development of exciting new opportunities, programs and services. In considering the recommendations above, Burnaby Youth Services has the opportunity to be innovative in their youth services programming and to be more effective in the critical work that they do to help youth reach their potential. 

How could a statistical analysis of Softball BC's membership database yield evidence-based facts to support the organisation's decisions regarding membership services, marketing and sponsorship, and grant applications? -  Michael Smith  
Through a mix of primary and secondary research, the applied project demonstrated that statistical analysis of a not-for-profit sport organisation’s membership database would provide a wealth of business intelligence that could be used to make informed decisions that lead to the success of programs or initiatives. In addition, the applied project showed that not-for-profit sports organisations and municipal recreational departments do recognise that converting membership data into business intelligence is a best practice that recreational organisations should perform regularly. Furthermore, research determined that transforming data into business intelligence would not only help organisations make more informed decisions but also create accountability and transparency in operations to stakeholders and funders. However, the research identified significant challenges to collect, analyse and present data into business information. The challenges recreation providers confront a lack of time, the financial means to buy the infrastructure, and staff expertise to execute a statistical or data analysis. And finally, in consultation with the agency advisor, the best, and the most improbable solution was for a provincial body such as viaSport to take the lead to create a province-wide sport participation database with a third-party database provider. As the provincial sport body that oversees the growth of sports participation in BC, viaSport could cajole the BC sport community to band together to create an economy of scale to purchase a database service. As a group, the BC sport community would have the financial means to pay a third-party database service provider that could provide expertise in collecting, analysing and presenting data to help each provincial sport organisation make evidence-based decisions.