Let's Keep Looking At Risk

In several articles in PRB February 2009, we explored the need for continuous assessment of risk as a way to avoid litigation and to reduce exposure.

Requests from all over the country flowed in for a copy of the basic instrument I use in a graduate course I teach, Emerging Legal Issues in Recreation. A checklist is given to students who do evaluations and assessments of parks and recreation settings in their communities. The results they document are indicative of the lay of the land out there. The pictures (literally--they photograph what they find) are not pretty. |

In the e-mail requests, the theme of the questions from PRB readers indicated that far too many agencies either had no formal system or no standardized way to collect data on conditions around their recreation and play areas, parks and facilities. Many expressed angst that what was missing left them vulnerable in many ways. Some have no policies, procedures or programs of regular assessment in place to rely upon. Some are using volunteers while others are using staff; some are not doing very much at all. Are you doing enough to protect your clientele, agency and staff?

Based on years of data from students and interest from PRB readers, I am asking for participation in an even broader way to look deeper into litigation and liability.

Log on to PRB’s Web site to answer some important and relevant questions related to your concerns. I am hopeful this assessment survey will yield some helpful ideas that can facilitate practitioners’ use of such information to be more proactive, more preventative and safer. Go to www.parksandrecbusiness.com, click on Take Our Liability Survey and simply complete the survey right there.

No printing, no mailing costs--just the data we need to assess this further. I will be happy to evaluate and report back the findings when we have ample data to see what the information reveals. Then, we can collectively see what comes next.

And for the many who wrote to me, thank you for letting me in on your thoughts and reactions to what we are trying to do. The voice of practitioners is always so useful in academia. We have more to do to be sure. Please help us to help you.

Joseph A. Panza, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor for the Recreation & Leisure Studies Department at Southern Connecticut State University. He can be reached via e-mail at panzaj1@southernct.edu.