Park and Recreation Offerings Are Vital to Youth Development

Ashburn, VA (October 4, 2022)

Park and recreation facilities, spaces and programming are essential for youth outside of school hours, according to the latest National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Park Pulse poll. U.S. adults say having opportunities to play sports and participate in other physical activities, job train or develop a skill, and access nutritious meals are among the most beneficial offerings for youth outside of school hours.

Park and recreation professionals provide important offerings for youth when school is not in session, including before and after school, during weekends and over summer break. U.S. adults rank the following as important youth services:

  • Sports and other physical activities
  • Job training or skill development
  • Access to nutritious meals
  • Volunteering/community service projects
  • Outdoor learning or environmental education

“As one of the largest providers of youth sports and youth development services in the nation, park and recreation professionals and their offerings reach more than 40 million youth each year,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “No other program or service has quite the reach that park and recreation agencies have, and the impact on our youth is immeasurable.”

According to the 2021 NRPA Out-of-School Time Report, more than four in five park and recreation agencies offer out-of-school time (OST) programs that serve millions of children throughout the United States. These before-school, after-school and/or summer programs provide physical activity opportunities, safe spaces for children, childcare for parents and caregivers, and social connections with peers. The 2021 NRPA Out-of-School Time Report celebrates how OST programs are making a real difference in the lives of youth. The study also highlights the challenges park and recreation professionals face in delivering these programs, and what more can be done to fully deliver on these programs.

To view the interactive charts with the survey results, click here.

To view the full-size infographic, click here.

Each month, through a poll of 1,000 U.S. residents focused on park and recreation issues, NRPA Park Pulse helps tell the park and recreation story. To learn more about NRPA’s Park Pulse and see results from previous polls, click here.


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