The Three Pillars of Parks and Recreation
Our nation’s local parks and recreation—whether large or small, rural or urban—connect us to nature and help preserve open space, provide health and wellness opportunities and essential services, and connect all people making communities livable and desirable.
We believe local parks and recreation are uniquely positioned to make a measurable difference in three key areas—what we have dubbed the “Three Pillars.” Champion the pillars in your community and communicate how you are making a difference in these areas:
Make Parks Yours
Parks and recreation are vital to our community. They not only beautify neighborhoods, but also promote opportunities for a healthier, smarter, more effective, more resilient people.
We encourage the support of local parks and recreation so that generations to come will have a place to play, exercise, relax, enjoy time with family and friends, and experience the natural world and wonders all around. When you think about it, our nation’s parks and recreation areas are like one big backyard – America’s backyard.
Parks are Essential
Public parks and recreation have engaged hundreds of thousands of people in the outdoors and health through community gardening, boating and fishing, sports and fitness, trails improvements, children and nature initiatives and summer and after-school nutrition and feeding programs.
Not only that, public parks and recreation have a conservation mission and vital responsibility for stewardship of land and resources. Parks contribute by providing clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, protecting against floods and extreme weather events, and reducing stress brought on by the challenges of daily life. Take a moment and review ten recommendations on how parks and recreation implement conservation practices in your community (1 MB PDF).
Parks and recreation are leaders in connecting our youth to nature—contributing to the fight to reverse the growing trend of children spending more time indoors than in nature. In fact, local parks and recreation are committing to get 10 million kids outdoors in the next three years.
Doing your Part
Being passionate and caring about parks and recreation is important. Taking knowledgeable action on this passion makes you an advocate. You can make a difference and be effective in changing public policy issues by being active in the parks and recreation community and by following these steps for advocacy:
- Learn about the issues to understand what the issues are about and why specific action is being proposed.
- Explore the Park Advocate Handbook.
- Build Relationships with everyone involved with the issue—government officials, special interest groups, and other concerned citizens. Localize the issue and find community help. Visit your legislators. Share the information you gain about parks and recreation from NRPA with others.
- Become involved with NRPA member groups related to your specific areas of interest.
- Communicate the issues in a compelling way. Present yourself, bring the message home, tell them what you want, and build support.
July is Park and Recreation Month
Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month.
Park and Recreation Month is a great opportunity to demonstrate the valuable benefits of local parks and recreation.
During the month, local parks and recreation will celebrate all the ways they help make their communities great through conservation, health and wellness, and social equity.
Parks Build Community®
Parks Build Community is an ongoing national initiative to demonstrate the transformative value of parks and recreation on communities. The environment, health, wellness, and social equity of communities can all be improved through the revitalization of parks. Over the last six years, the Parks Build Community program has positively influenced communities in Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA, Los Angeles, CA, Houston, TX, Charlotte, NC, and North Las Vegas, NV. In 2016, NRPA will work with Great Rivers Greenway, the regional parks and trails district in the St. Louis region, the city of Wellston Missouri, and other partners to revitalize Trojan Park. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, plans for a state-of-the-art playground, basketball court, splash pad and family picnic areas, complete with shade structures, are slated for completion before the opening ceremony, held the morning of Saturday, October 8, 2016. The enhanced park will be unveiled to the community during the NRPA Annual Conference, October 5-8, 2016.
Parks Build Community is more than an annual project—its about demonstrating the transformative power of parks and encouraging the revitalization of parks everywhere.
Playground Safety Tips and Information
Playing outdoors is a major component in the fight against childhood obesity as well as the overall health and well-being of young people. NRPA is dedicated to promoting children's rights to play in safe and challenging play environments, and educating members of NRPA and the general public on the importance that play has in childhood development.
In the past twenty years, NRPA has developed two of the nation's premiere training programs and resources for playground safety, including the Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) training and certification program. Both initiatives have helped to train and inform professionals and the public on playground safety issues at the highest national standards--ensuring that children across the U.S. have access to safe, challenging, and fun play environments.