In today’s high-tech, digital-obsessed environment, some may be tempted to write off the local neighborhood community center as an anachronism. With such an abundance of resources available online, many of us may wonder whether we really need these facilities at all.

Yet according to a recent survey by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the demand for community-center services is stronger than ever, across all generations. “While traditionally these agencies have brought a focus of fitness and fun to their local community members of all ages,” the NRPA says, “now many also include healthy living classes, computer and internet availability, and older adult transportation, just to name a few.”

According to the poll, Americans are not only supporting their local community centers — they’re demanding more “nontraditional” services that go beyond the usual after-school programs and aquatic facilities:

  • 51 percent would like to see their local centers offer healthy living classes.
  • 46 percent want programming for older adults.
  • 45 percent want nature-based activities.
  • 43 percent want access to computers and the internet.
  • 41 percent want inclusive facilities for all abilities and all needs.
  • 38 percent want health clinics and services.

Even more surprising is the outcome that shows Millennials supporting community center services just as strongly as — if not more so than — their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts. 57 percent of the Millennials surveyed want fitness facilities at their local centers, 53 percent want healthy living classes, and 50 percent want out-of-school time programming.

For more information about the results, visit the NRPA’s blog post.

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