This research work assessed the level of participation in outdoor recreation in Yenagoa town, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The study covered ten wards in which the town is organised, using one ward each for investigations into the availability of outdoor recreation facilities, access to them and the general pattern of recreation practices among the residents of the town. The ten communities were selected on the basis of the level of concentration and size of the population, with the highest being taken for the purpose of sampling. A sample size of 0.87% of the total population (42,463) was used based on sample size determining criteria by Krejcie and Morgan (1970) and 368 (0.87%) questionnaires were administered to household heads in the 10 sampled communities. Relevant data were obtained on the subject, with the result revealing that recreation facilities are abundantly provided in the town and most residents were aware of their existence. However, with the exemption of football facilities, most residents would not patronize the facilities provided, although no apparent barriers to access for the facilities are in place and people are free to use them. It is subsequently shown from the data that a number of factors play important roles in limiting the level of participation including ignorance of the benefit of recreation, income level of the respondents and distance from the facilities. The result is a low level of participation with only 18% of respondents indicating regular participation. Addressing these hindrances, proposals were made to encourage more participation across the population spectrum in active recreation participation in the town. It is envisaged that this will also serve as an example for other towns in the country.

1.0       Background of the Study
Recreation is as old as man and everybody needs it. This is due to its vast and fundamental importance. It plays an important role in physical, economic and socio-cultural development of mankind (Okoli 2001). It is for this reason that Obateru (2003) expresses the need for Nigerians to participate in recreation activities in order to improve their health, facilitate their economic output and also to make worthy use of leisure time.

Recreation activities according to Atemie (1997) is an important ingredient for long life. It is for this reason that Straus (1998), a medical educator emphasized that recreation is as important as eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. It has the ability in helping to deal with stress in life, by changing the focus of attention from those stressful situations.

Today‟s young participants in outdoor recreation activities are tomorrow‟s adult outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists, but sadly fewer and fewer youth are leaving outdoors each year to indoor recreation activities.

In Nigeria however, it has been observed that the culture of participating in recreation activities consciously is relatively low. This may not be unconnected with the economic circumstance prevalent in the country. Results of recent researches into the recreation activities of Nigerians in different walks of life (Makasi, 1985) Imazobi, (1988) seem to indicate that certain unexpected factors prevent most Nigerians from engaging in recreation activities. While Nigeria is blessed with several abundant recreation activities such as swimming, football, lawn tennis, boating, picnicking, basketball, polo playing, TV viewing and several other activities which could be participated in by Nigerians

It appears in Yenagoa the capital of Bayelsa state is filled with various types of modern and traditional recreation activities, these activities appear not to have been patronised as expected. This observation was made during the reconnaissance survey that the degree of participation in outdoor recreation activities is minimal.

1.1       Statement of Research Issue
There are indications that the level at which people engage in outdoor recreation activities in Yenagoa is low despite the abundant opportunities available. From previous researches, the reasons usually attributed for non-participation in outdoor recreation is always associated with lack of facilities for doing so. The issue of lack of facilities which limits the participation of outdoor recreation has always been recognised by (Mcintosh, 1995) understanding recreation as an economic, physical and environmental benefit to man. Hence researchers like Morrison (2001) asserted that location of recreation facilities is a primary factor affecting access to outdoor recreation activities; therefore facilities should be planned to possess some degree of attractiveness. However, in Yenagoa this is in conflict with the known findings and further research therefore is required for an explanation since there are ample recreation facilities.

Associated with this, is to also understand the circumstances under which participation in outdoor recreation in the town occur. This implies knowledge of the social characteristics of participants, the reasons for participating, constraints and problems.

It is against this backdrop that this research is set out and it seeks to answer the following questions:

i.                  What is the level of participation in outdoor recreation activities in Yenagoa?

ii.                   What are the constrains to effective participation in outdoor recreation in the study area?

iii.                   What appropriate measures may be taken to encourage participation in outdoor recreational activities in the study area?

Answers to these questions will provide input for policy decision and planning for

corrective action, as recreation is generally seen as a socially acceptable and worthwhile activity that creates opportunities for people to develop themselves physically, socially, mentally and emotionally (Bucher 1979). Research has shown also that people‟s involvement in recreation activities plays a significant role in integrating society, affiliating them with institutions, and enhancing their educational and developmental outcomes (Kovac and Beck, 1997).

1.2       Aim
The aim of the research is to assess the level of participation in outdoor recreation activities in Yenagoa, with a view in establishing the pattern and making appropriate recommendations towards encouraging greater participation among residents in recreation activities.

1.3       Objectives
i.            To appraise the provisioning of outdoor recreation facilities in Yenagoa

ii.             To establish the characteristics of participation in outdoor recreation activities in Yenagoa.

iii.             To identify the factors that affect participation in outdoor recreation activities in Yenagoa.

iv.         To make appropriate recommendations towards the encouragement of greater participation in recreation activities in Yenagoa.

1.4       Scope
This study focuses on the assessment of participation of the residents of Yenagoa. It is limited to the outdoor component of recreation with focuses on the facilities available and the character and pattern of their use

1.5       Limitation
The study therefore will be limited to Yenagoa town, particularly the assessment of the participation of outdoor recreation activities there. In the field investigations, the researcher has limited himself to household heads within the study area as respondents to collect data through questionnaire and observation.

1.6       Justification
In Nigeria participation in modern recreation is generally low. Recreation has not taken an important position in people‟s day-to-day activity especially among adults. People tend to engage in recreation activities haphazardly and as such the level of awareness about the importance of participating in outdoor recreation activities appears to be relatively low. This may be as a result of not knowing the relevance of engaging in outdoor recreation activities or the lack of facilities. This study attempts to unravel the reasons why despite the relative availability of facilities, participation in outdoor recreation remains low in Yenagoa. Understanding this is important for future policies on the provision of facilities for recreation in urban areas in Nigeria at large.

1.7       Definition of Terms
Recreation Facilities: These are the necessary requirements for recreation. They may be in the form of buildings, services, equipment, spaces etc that are provided for a particular purpose in recreation. They may provide for indoor or outdoor activities. They may provide for both active and passive recreation.

Participation: Is the act of taking part in an activity or event, like sports, recreation activities etc. Participation may be active whereby the individual partakes in the activity or passive whereby they watch others partake.

Perception: Getz (1994) defines perception as the meaning attributed to an object phenomenon or activity. It is shaped by our knowledge, beliefs, values and norms.

Practices : This is the habitual doing or carrying out of something, usual or customary action or performance, i.e a repeated exercise in or performance of an activity so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it, activity undertaken to this end, (Lesley, 1982).

Assessment: In this work, assessment will refer to an act of rating, evaluating, estimating or checking to arrive at a result that will be useful in making formal decisions.

Community: This refers to all the people who live in a particular area, community etc. And in most cases share the same religion, job etc.

Outdoor Recreation: These are recreation activities that take place outside a building. To enjoy the facilities required for their pursuit, one needs to travel to the place or places where the facilities are located.

Indoor Recreation: These are recreation activities carried out, in or within the jurisdiction of buildings. They include activities for leisure carried out at home.

Traditional Recreation Activities: Refers to recreation activities that have been developed overtime by people based on their socio-cultural values, norms and technology adjusted to the features of leisure time available to the people.

Modern Recreation Activities: These are recreation activities introduced into a society as a result of contact with other cultures e.g. soccer, tennis etc.

Leisure: Burton (1970) defines leisure as time available to a person after the requirements of sleeping, eating and basic social and household duties have been met.

Recreation: Molyneux (1970) defines recreation to mean purposeful activity undertaken during leisure time.

Active Recreation Pursuit: This falls within the category of sport and their pursuits involve element of competition or challenges and use prepared pitches, situation etc, such activities include swimming, jogging, riding etc. It requires exhaustion of energy.

Passive Recreation Pursuit: These are recreation activities that do not require exertion or physical effort as the many experience of the activity, does not necessarily make use of defined courses, pitches etc. it also includes the act of watching others partake in active recreation like watching live or televised sporting activities.

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