As we kick off this year’s Park and Recreation Month, NRPA wants to ensure that Members of Congress and their staff understand the critical importance of federal funding that supports out-of-school time programming.
Last week, we joined several other national partners, including the Afterschool Alliance, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the National Summer Learning Association, for a series of events on Capitol Hill to showcase how these federal funds are being used locally across the country and the impact it has on the children and families of those communities.
During the current budget negotiations between President Trump and Congress, some of these federal funding streams that are often the foundation for out-of-school time programs, both over the summer months and before- and after-school, are now at risk of being cut or eliminated entirely (see June’s Parks & Recreation magazine article Federal Budget Cuts Threaten Educational Funding). By standing with likeminded organizations, together we can demonstrate to Congress and the Administration what this funding means for the essential work being done every day in the out-of-school time space.
Last week’s events included a briefing and Hill Day hosted by the National Summer Learning Association where we were joined by the Department of Community Services, Live Healthy Gwinnett from Lawrenceville, Georgia. Gwinnett County highlighted their work around healthy summer meals and summer youth employment.
The week then culminated with NRPA’s Summer Camp on Capitol Hill: Play on to Protect Programming at Parks where over 150 local children and staff from the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, the Maryland National-Capitol Park and Planning Commission, and the Caroline County (MD) Recreation and Parks Department came out to show Members of Congress and Hill staff how they play on. Activities included yoga, soccer, arts and crafts, and much, much more! A healthy lunch that children would typically receive at a summer meal site, funded by the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, was also served to all attendees.
Although you may not have been able to join us in DC for these events, there is still plenty of time to plan site visits with your Members of Congress when they are back home this summer.
If you’ve got an exciting Park and Recreation Month event, park or project dedication, or your own summer camp you’d like to show off, make it a Park Champion event by inviting your members of Congress! It’s easy to get started with the Park Champion Advocacy Toolkit, our step-by-step guide to inviting your members of Congress for a visit.*
Thank you to all of our partners that supported the events of last week.
*Host your members of Congress or their staff at your agency by August 31 to be eligible for the 2017 Park Champion of the Year Award! The recipient of this year’s award will receive recognition at NRPA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans, a feature in Parks & Recreation magazine, and roundtrip travel and lodging for two in your agency to come to Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2018 to advocate for parks and rec on Capitol Hill! Get started with your Park Champion event.