NRPA Statement on Creating an Equitable Future

(May 18, 2021)

Kristine Stratton, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) issued the following statement:

At NRPA, we are dedicated to building a future where all people — no matter their race, age, income level, identity or ability — have access to and are welcomed into programs, facilities, places and spaces that make their lives and communities great.

We estimate that as many as 100 million people – 30 percent of the U.S. population— lack access to the lifesaving and life enhancing benefits parks and recreation provides. 

Achieving a future where all people have fair and just access to quality parks and recreation requires that we recognize the systemic inequities that have created very different experiences for people. Policies, land use decisions and design approaches at the federal, state and local level — rooted in racism and discrimination — brought us to where we are today. 

Our past is complex and multi-layered, but we need to understand it if we are to make lasting change. To support learning and understanding, NRPA launched a story map to illustrate policies and examples of park inequities throughout U.S. history. We acknowledge our past to reveal both the opportunities and challenges ahead of us. 

Because we are parks and recreation, committing to equity and striving for an equitable world also means approaching this work with joycelebration and a hunger for learning

The future we envision is a beautiful one with quality parks and recreation embedded in every community for everyone

To build this future, we are focused on four key areas.

  • We recognize the systemic inequities that have created very different lived experiences in communities across the country and seek to learn from the past. Visit our story map here.  
  • We are strengthening our organizational culture and practices centered around equity and our core values of diversity, inclusion, trust, and continuous learning. Read more about our values work here and action plan here.
  • We are embedding equity, inclusion, and diversity (DEI) into how we prepare the park and recreation field for the future. We are excited to launch DEI training at the 2021 NRPA Annual Conference, as well as many other opportunities to come. You can fuel your commitment to centering equity in parks and recreation by staying up to date with the latest resources, trainings and more by signing up for alerts here.
  • We create equity-centered outcomes while working to dismantle the barriers to equity. Read more about our programs here

We invite all our members, friends and allies to join us on this learning journey and on this road to achieving just and equitable access to the incredible benefits of parks and recreation for all.  

About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit