For the second year, NRPA is collaborating with The Walt Disney Company, including Disney Citizenship, Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN during Earth Month to expand the Parks Build Community initiative — where through our Meet Me at the Park PSA and social media we encourage everyone from across the country to join in on creating lasting impacts for 16 communities.
Everyone can get involved in two ways.
One way is by entering your favorite local park into a random drawing for $20,000. We encourage park and recreation agencies across the U.S. to be inspired and rally their communities on social media to nominate a local park.
The second way to get involved is by helping select projects in 15 communities to be awarded $20,000 each that will connect kids to nature, help families live healthier and improve kids’ access to sports. The project from each city with the most votes at the end of April will be awarded the funding — and you can vote every day for your favorites!
Your votes last year helped create a tremendous impact in communities around the country. This enforces the fact that local parks and recreation are a critical asset to communities everywhere. Take a look below at the impacts and a couple of success stories.
Community Impacts from 2015 Parks Build Community
- 163,613 total people impacted by Parks Build Community projects
- 25,811 people connected with nature
- 3,155 people have improved access to healthy food
- 54,329 people have improved access to physical activity
- 34,330 people have improved access to sports
- 606 volunteers helped bring these projects to life
Success Stories from 2015 Parks Build Community
The Parks Build Community grant helped a young man’s dream become a reality. He wrote to the staff at Bill Frederick Park in Orlando, Florida to share his dream to build a nature garden that included something for the sight impaired. He had some sight impairment his entire life, but before his college graduation he experienced full loss of sight. Park staff invited him to walk the 1/4 mile trail to explain how trail planners might incorporate elements for the sight impaired. He told them if they used the sense of touch and feel, everyone could have similar experiences. Thus emerged the idea to add 3D maps, plants with fragrance, unique leaf shapes and textures to enable visitors to smell, touch and feel their way along the trail, which the Parks Build Community grant helped bring to life.
In Philadelphia, PA the Parks Build Community grant allowed children the opportunity to play in the dirt. Glavin Playground was primarily a concrete surfaced facility in a neighborhood where backyards are often concrete as well. The participants in the programs and the people who visit Glavin regularly aren't used to getting their hands in soil, planting flowers or tasting fresh herbs. But now, park staff and parents have enjoyed witnessing children play in soil with trucks, sticks and rocks. Perhaps the most amazing part of this project was at first, it was an effort to get the participants to even plant the flowers and herbs, but by the end, everyone had not only planted a plant but sampled various herbs as well.
Morgan Rothermel is NRPA's Program Specialist