It's Park and Recreation Month!
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It's Park and Recreation Month!

How does it feel to be in the joy business? As my summer park tour in D.C. continues, I can't help but notice a lot of smiling faces. But behind those smiles is a lot of hard work. These summer camps don't just pop up overnight. Coordinating thousands of hours of substantive programming, designing curriculum, serving healthy meals, and operating and maintaining busy pools, splash pads and centers take a lot out of you. Those smiles come from your sweat equity and it shows!

Our job on the public policy team is to help translate those smiles into dollars. Despite the constant drip of Russia related news coming out of our sweltering capital city, we are working hard to ensure that our elected officials and staff take some time to focus on our priorities and on the good work you all do every day. We've had a very busy summer to date. 

On June 29, to kick off Park and Recreation Month, NRPA hosted a Summer Camp on Capitol Hill where around 400 kids, congressional staffers and members came to D.C. Park and Recreation's Garfield Park for some fun activities and a healthy, typical summer meal that kids would be served in their community. From yoga, life-size Connect Four, a canoe photo booth and a naturalist, kids of all ages were given a little taste of what a parks and rec summer camp can be. A  big thanks to the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George's County Parks and Recreation, and Caroline County Parks and Recreation for bringing their energy and assets to the event!
 
Earlier in the week, NRPA members from Gwinnet County, Georgia, were on hand to participate in a briefing hosted by our partners at the National Summer Learning Association to highlight how parks and recreation are leveraging federal dollars to support their afterschool programming.
On July 11, NRPA sponsored an Outdoor Alliance for Kids event on Capitol Hill to brief 80 Hill staffers on the importance of supporting policies and legislation (funding) that support connecting kids to the outdoors. The other organizations that joined us were: Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, The Y, the American Heart Association, the Great Appalachian Valley Conservation Corps, and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).  The discussion grew which allowed us to talk about legislation that is most critical to NRPA (e.g. LWCF, CDGB, TIGER, etc). 

On top of these events, we had Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Rep. Nikki Tsongas (D-MA) introduce H. Res 406, a bi-partisan resolution recognizing the value of parks and recreation to our nation. Additionally, Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) introduced the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program Act (H.R. 2943) that would help set aside additional oil and gas drilling dollars specifically for urban parks.   

Given all of the activity on the policy front, we're thinking that summer is a great time for you all to show off a bit. Have your elected officials come and spend some time with you and your team this Park and Recreation Month. Show them how you're transforming lives in your community and how critical the joy business is to the overall health and wealth of your community.    

Take a moment this afternoon to fill out this quick, 30-second survey to let me know who on your team handles intergovernmental affairs or outreach and engagement so that Jayni Rasmussen from my team can help in setting up a Park Champion event at your agency. By bringing your members of Congress out to see your parks and programs, you can help ensure that you are getting the dollars to support all those smiles. 

Take Care, 
 
Kevin O'Hara
Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs
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The Future Is Resilient Parks - NRPA Innovation Lab New Orleans

 

Join NRPA and your fellow park and rec leaders in the Crescent City to learn more about how other cities are, or are not, integrating parks into their resilience efforts. This Lab will focus on forward thinking planning and park development strategies that cities can use to maximize the value of their parks and opens spaces to combat the effects of rising sea levels, flooding, drought, extreme weather events and more.
Learn More and Register

 

The countdown is on for the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference. In 73 days, more than 7,000 park and recreation professionals wil gather in New Orleans for amazing networking opportunities, inspirational education sessions and the industry's largest trade show. You can save up to $250 by registering before the Early Bird deadline, August 1. Check out the highlights of the conference, including all of the education sessions, networking events and pre-conference workshops in our preliminary program.

 

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