Parks and recreation is vital to community health and well-being.

We must ensure that all people have access to these spaces, programs and services that remain essential to community vitality and serve as a key factor in advancing health equity, improving individual and community-level health outcomes, and enhancing quality of life.

NRPA believes that park and recreation professionals are key to a fully integrated public health system and play a vital role in meeting the evolving health needs of their communities. They are uniquely positioned to create, in partnership with the community, public health leaders and other local organizations, upstream solutions that catalyze and transform their systems into holistic and people-centered community wellness hubs. In serving as community wellness hubs, parks and recreation connects community members to comprehensive programs, services and spaces that dismantle systemic barriers to health, especially for people of color and low-income communities, while investing in efforts that support and advance health and well-being holistically. 

At the core of this work is equity. By centering health equity and embedding it into all that we do, we can ensure that all people — regardless of race, class, ability or identity — have a fair and just opportunity to achieve positive health and well-being outcomes.

NRPA commits to championing and evaluating local solutions, building strategic partnerships, developing resources and best practices, advancing policy change, enhancing professional development opportunities and lifting up impactful stories, to support this transformation into community wellness hubs and help park and recreation professionals realize their full potential as public health agents.

 

Health and Wellness in Parks and Recreation

Commit To HealthCommit to Health

NRPA’s Commit to Health campaign supports the goals of improving healthy food access, reducing obesity and chronic disease, and fostering social supports at local park and recreation sites. Park and recreation sites can join the national movement to support community health and wellness.

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Healthy Aging in ParksHealthy Aging in Parks

Healthy Aging in Parks is NRPA’s campaign to improve and maintain the health and well-being of older adults by increasing opportunities for physical activity through parks and recreation.

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Mentoring in Parks and Rec

Through the Mentoring in Parks and Rec, NRPA supports agencies in their efforts to build effective and evidence-based mentorship programs that connect youth with caring and compassionate mentors while strengthening connections across community.

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Learn more about NRPA’s other initiatives aimed at improving health and well-being through parks and recreation.

 

Health and Wellness Resources

Every day, in communities across the country, the people of parks and recreation are making their communities better places to live, work and play. We are building a nation-wide movement of support for their critical work and want you to join us.

 

NRPA Response to COVID-19

NRPA continues to monitor developments as well as federal, state and local responses to coronavirus (COVID-19). We are following the Centers for Disease Control employer response recommendations for our offices, as well as NRPA-sponsored events.

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Case Study Series: Launching Community Nutrition Hubs During a Pandemic

Park and recreation agencies are uniquely suited to serve as community nutrition hubs, connecting all members of the community to programs and services that improve health outcomes. The Launching Community Nutrition Hubs During a Pandemic video explores how park and recreation professionals from three agencies began the planning process to implement a hub model in their communities to address food security and nutrition literacy for their community members during a critical time — the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Community Wellness Hubs

Local park and recreation agencies are perfectly suited to serve as community wellness hubs by leveraging their role as trusted gathering places that connect every member of the community to essential programs, services and spaces that advance health equity, improve health outcomes and enhance quality of life. Community wellness hubs meet the unique needs of their communities through a variety of ways including access to healthy foods, physical activity, social connections and connection to nature.


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A Comprehensive Response to the Substance Use Crisis for Park and Recreation Professionals

This report explores response strategies and recommendations for park and recreation professionals. It highlights a variety of tactics and levels of response that focus on prevention, operations and maintenance, public safety, community education, partnership building, staff training and development, and more.


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Best Practices Guide for Increasing Access to Healthy Foods Through Innovative Approaches

The purpose of this guide is to highlight key strategies that park and recreation agencies can use in the implementation of three innovative program models to increase access to healthy foods — starting or expanding farmers markets or community-supported agriculture, starting or expanding intergenerational programming and addressing transportation barriers.


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Electronic Health Record Referral Process Guide

This resource supports the common goal of healthcare organizations and community-based organizations like park and recreation agencies: improving the health of their communities. The guide explores how to implement a referral process that can enhance awareness of and improve access to your programs and services and improve the health of the communities you serve.


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Park and Recreation Professionals’ Guide to Fundraising

This resource outlines strategies to diversify funding sources. It will walk you through establishing a fundraising team, developing your case for support, identifying and cultivating new donors, and pursuing innovative development strategies.

 

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Best Practice Guide for Out-of-School Time Meal Program Models and Sustainability

This guide is designed to share models for implementing six main components of out-of-school time meal programs at park and recreation sites. All six components emphasize the importance of collaborating with other community organizations to address food insecurity.


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Curated Content: Advancing Community Health and Wellness

NRPA and our trusted partners aim to continually share up-to-date information through Open Space blog and Parks & Recreation magazine.

 

Parks Snapshot Surveys

In March 2020, NRPA began conducting weekly Parks Snapshot surveys to learn how park and recreation leaders from across the country are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to provide weekly data from the NRPA Parks Snapshot survey, as state and local guidance and ordinances regarding COVID-19 continue to change rapidly.  

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Farmers Markets — Parks and Recreation Connecting Communities to Healthy Foods

This report explores the role park and recreation agencies play in bringing farmers markets to their communities. As a trusted provider of health and wellness opportunities — from a place for physical activities to classes on healthy cooking — parks and recreation is a natural home for farmers markets.


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NRPA’s Out-of-School Time Report

Local park and recreation agencies provide safe places where kids can go when they are not in school. This report celebrates how out-of-school time programs are making a real difference in the lives of their communities’ youth. The study also highlights on what more can be done and the obstacles that must be overcome to fully deliver on these programs.

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Healthy Aging in Parks Survey

Park and recreation agencies are in a unique position to ensure that the needs of underserved older adults are being met. This study explores how park and recreation agencies and their staff serve older adults.


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Making the Case: Parks and Health Toolkit

Making the Case: Parks and Health is an easy-to-use resource to help park and recreation leaders make the objective case to elected officials that parks are a critical part of the community’s public health infrastructure. The resource includes data-rich fact sheets, presentations, infographics and other resources that will help you get support for your agency.

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News Stories

9.23.21Top Story

Mo. city shrinks parking lot to add "prime park space"

9.23.21Around the Country

Wis. city agrees to fund high-speed internet at 4 parks

9.23.21Around the Country

Whitewater park is being built in Franklin, N.H.