Notable News

December 1, 2015, Department, by NRPA

- Through a partnership of the NFL, NFL Network and NRPA, local park and recreation sites in eight designated NFL markets may apply for the opportunity to receive funding support and/or equipment to complement their after-school physical activity/health and wellness education programs. One local park and recreation site in each of the eight markets will be selected to receive an NFL PLAY 60 grant valued at $7,500 to provide new equipment, curriculum, refurbished play spaces, additional staff to run physical activity-based programming, or support the start or growth of an NFL PLAY 60 program. Grant applications for the NFL PLAY 60 After-School Kickoff Grant Program are being accepted now through January 15, 2016. For more information about this grant and to apply, visit 


- Some teachers and occupational therapists say an increasing number of children are showing up for kindergarten without the fine motor skills needed to grip a marker, hold their paper still while coloring or to cut and glue shapes. Some therapists believe the Back to Sleep campaign, which promotes placing infants on their backs to sleep, has delayed muscle development. Others attribute it to the fact that today’s children spend less time outside, where they might have more opportunities to explore how their bodies move through space, learn to balance and figure how to handle toys and tools in relation to one another.


- Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) have called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to lead an “independent investigation into the health risks of crumb rubber” turf, recycled tires used as surface cover on playgrounds and athletic fields across the country. They are the latest congressional officials to call for research on crumb rubber since news reports on the playing surface began more than a year ago. To date, no studies have definitively linked crumb rubber to cancer or any disease, and the turf industry says that dozens of studies have shown there is no health risk. However, the industry and some experts believe more tests are needed to determine the product’s safety and that the federal government should take a clear position. 


- For its annual meeting and trade show, the Georgia Recreation and Park Association featured former NBA superstar, now VP for the Atlanta Hawks, Dominique Wilkins, as the keynote speaker. His message centered on the theme of investing in individuals as a way to have a greater impact on the community. Wilkins, one of eight children of a single mother, credits his local parks in Baltimore for contributing to his upbringing. Specifically, he credits his local park director who he says is the man who “turned him from being just a clumsy tall guy” and taught him how to play basketball. The lessons about basketball, life and respecting those who offer their time to teach you something is what Wilkins says allowed him to have a successful career. 


- A study published in Health Affairs analyzed two similar low-income, food desert neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. When, after 30 years without one, a grocery story was built in one of the neighborhoods, the study found that residents were healthier but for reasons not exactly connected with food they consumed. Interestingly, the improved health outcomes of residents had to do with perception of their neighborhood.


- How much does severe obesity cost the healthcare system? A study published in the journal Health Affairs found that in California healthcare costs related to the severely obese hit $9.1 billion in 2013. Although California has the third-lowest national obesity rate, it still is “‘home to the greatest number of severely obese people: 3.2 million.” Also, the study found that nationally, for a patient who is moderately obese, it means a $941 annual increase in healthcare spending and severely obese means $1,980 increase compared to a person of normal weight.


- In early November, New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, along with other city, state and federal officials, announced a $2 million state grant to install rainwater-capture systems and other projects to mitigate stormwater runoff in the more than 40 community gardens in the East Village and Lower East Side. The announcement was great news for New York’s gardening movement. For decades, city officials have considered community gardens as temporary oases, space savers for future development. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, community gardens are now being seen as “green infrastructure,” a way to help protect the downtown area against flooding from major storms.