Impacting Communities

Three Pillars LogoOur nation’s local parks and recreation are the gateways to healthy, prosperous and connected communities. On any given day, someone is being positively affected through parks and recreation – whether they are taking a walk on a trail or fitness class at the community center, getting a nutritious meal or just reaping the benefits of clean air and water because of preserved open space.

The work of local parks and recreation takes on some of our nation’s toughest challenges like obesity, the economy and environmental sustainability and offers solutions. Local parks and recreation are uniquely positioned to make significant contributions in these areas, and do by providing critical front-line services and resources.

Conservation IconConservation—Parks are critical in the role of preserving natural resources that have real economic benefits for communities. You are the leaders, often the only voice in communities, for protecting open space, connecting children to nature, and providing education and programming that helps communities engage in conservation practices.

Health and Wellness IconHealth and Wellness—Agencies lead the nation in improving the overall health and wellness of communities. You are essential partners in combating some of the most complicated and expensive challenges our country faces –poor nutrition, hunger, obesity, and physical inactivity.

Social Equity IconSocial Equity—Universal access to public parks and recreation are a right, not just a privilege. Every day you are working hard to ensure that all members of your community have access to the resources and programming you offer. Very few – if any – can claim the same.

NRPA stands alongside each agency and individual in the responsibility to be a loud voice for the significance and impact of our collective work, elevated by these three pillars.

Our Vision

Everyone will have easy access to park and recreation opportunities in sustainable communities.


Economic Impact ThumbnailPreliminary findings* from an Economic Impact Study conducted by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia shows that the nation’s local and regional parks are economic powerhouses in the U.S., creating nearly $140 billion in economic activity per year and supporting nearly 1 million jobs.

Annual Report 2016NRPA’s 2016 Annual Report highlights the significant impact we are making in the areas of conservation, health and wellness, social equity and more. From improving childhood nutrition, to creating more healthy and sustainable communities, we are making a difference.

Annual Report 2015NRPA’s 2015 Annual Report highlights innovative initiatives that have been implemented with our members and partners to create powerful, measurable change in communities of all types.

Pillar Poster ThumbnailDownload a PDF copy of our poster showcasing how Local Parks and Recreation are impacting communties.  (High Resolution version or Low Resolution version)

Research Papers Summary CoverThe situation facing U.S. parks is stark: A societal resource more popular and beneficial than at any time in history is pitted against those who would cut funding to these very resources.

TheSynopsis of 2010 Research Papers summarizes the key categories in which parks and recreation contribute to building of healthy, vibrant communities. This white paper outlines in six main areas the latest research into the benefits provided by parks: physical health, mental health, social functioning, youth development, environment, and economic impact.

Read all available industry monographs in their entirety.

For more information about research papers, contact NRPA Customer Service at 800.626.NRPA (6772)