Improving public recreational amenities is crucial for anyone but
especially children, "who may see options limited as the business
of youth sports grows to the exclusion of some," Coles said.
"One thing we talk about in class is that youth sport
participation is on the decline but costs are on the increase, so it
becomes haves versus have-nots," Coles said. "So
community-based, free outdoor facilities is a way to give kids those opportunities."
Encouraging kids to get outside and have fun can instill lifelong
habits of exercise, he noted. That can start even as early as the
splash-pad set, with little ones experiencing the joy of running
through the water elements.
But of course that encouragement to get moving is relevant for any
age. That has never been more true than during the pandemic, when
people have craved time outdoors for both their physical and mental
health, Coles said.
The pandemic also had an effect on planning and fundraising by
driving up construction costs and increasing the initial goal of
raising $740,000 to close to $1 million, he said.
He said sharing his experiences about fundraising with sport
management students is an important enhancement to their education, as
the field has an increasing business and revenue-generating focus at
every level of sports.
"I talk to my classes about how to raise money, how to present a
sales pitch, how to change it based on who you are speaking to and how
to meet the needs of your potential partner," Coles said.
"Whether it is corporate or small business, catering your pitch
to the potential partner is what students will be doing when they graduate."
And in the end, the basis for his community and professional work is
movement, a central tenet of the Movement
Science Department that houses the sport management program,
"Our department teaches the art, science, philosophy and
fundamentals of movement. This project will get people moving and I
couldn’t be more proud of that," Coles said.