NRPA recognizes the devastating impact substance use disorder has on local park and recreation agencies and their communities, and the power of local parks and recreation in supporting youth impacted by these challenges. To address this issue, we are supporting local agencies in their efforts to pilot a mentorship program for youth impacted by the opioid epidemic in rural Appalachia and New England. Since 2018, NRPA has worked with 15 communities to develop and implement an evidence-based mentoring program targeting at-risk youth residing in rural communities.
This content is supported by Grants # 2018-JU-FX-0036 and #2020-JY-FX-0002 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.
Mentoring in Parks and Rec: Overarching Goals
- Provide funding, training and technical assistance to local park and recreation agencies and community partners to implement evidence-based, youth mentoring programs with a specific focus on supporting youth impacted by substance misuse, youth experiencing trauma and adverse child experiences (ACEs), and youth from historically disenfranchised populations.
- Collaborate with partners to develop turn-key resources and tools to help professionals implement high-quality mentoring programs that support family engagement, career development, community service, and leverage the role of parks and recreation as Community Wellness Hubs.
- Provide field-wide training and professional development opportunities to build the knowledge, competence and confidence of park and recreation professionals to develop youth mentoring programs.
Mentoring in Parks and Rec: Individual Program Goals
NRPA supports youth mentoring programs that prevent, reduce, and address opioid misuse among rural youth in Appalachia and New England through evidence-based mentoring practices in local park and recreation agencies.
2018 Mentoring Program
- Implement NRPA’s Youth Mentoring Framework at five local park and recreation agencies to provide direct, one-on-one (at each site, 20 of these groups were formed) and group mentoring services in rural Appalachia for youth who are currently misusing opioids, who have previously misused opioids, or who are at risk for opioid use disorder.
- Build the capacity of 500+ park and recreation agencies to implement and sustain a youth mentoring program.
2020 Mentoring Program
- Implement NRPA’s Youth Mentoring Framework at 10 local park and recreation agencies to provide direct, one-on-one (at each site, 25 of these groups were formed) and group mentoring services (at each site, 10 of these groups were formed) in Appalachia and New England for youth who are currently misusing opioids, who have previously misused opioids, or who are at risk for opioid use disorder.
- Implement family engagement activities at 10 local park and recreation agencies in rural Appalachia and rural New England focused on opioid abuse prevention, reaching at least 100 parents/caregivers (overall).
To date, 128 youth and 131 adult mentors have been recruited and are active in a mentoring program; 103 matches have been made.
NRPA has found that 128 mentees report increases in community involvement (50 percent), social competency (46 percent), social support (46 percent), pro-social behavior (37 percent), attendance at school (22 percent), and family relationships (35 percent).
NRPA has found that 131 mentors report increases in overall mentoring knowledge (62 percent), and knowledge surrounding substance use disorder (56 percent).
Youth Mentoring Grantee Profiles
NRPA used the Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool to select five grantees to receive funding for the development, implementation and support of a youth mentorship program. Grantees were selected based on demographic factors including population size, location, opioid overdose mortality rate, poverty and education level, and employment rate. Additional tools were utilized during the selection process for the 2020 to 2023 mentoring cohort and include the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and NORC’s Prosperity Index scores.
The 2018 to 2021 grantees are:
- Steubenville, Ohio
- Middlesboro, Kentucky
- Elizabethton, Tennessee
- Mount Airy, North Carolina
- Danville, Virginia
Learn more about the grantees.
The 2020 to 2023 grantees include:
- Auburn, Maine
- Berwick, Maine
- Franklin, New Hampshire
- Lewiston, Maine
- Mountain City, Tennessee
- Plainfield, Connecticut
- Rome, Georgia
- Warren, Rhode Island
- Wheeling, West Virginia
Learn more about the grantees.
Explore communications highlighting NPRA’s Mentoring in Parks and Rec initiative.
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