Local park and recreation agencies provide crucial health and wellness opportunities for all communities across the country. NRPA works with these agencies to provide the tools, resources and technical assistance to improve access to healthy foods and to increase opportunities for people to be physically active in their communities. During the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference, attendees will have the opportunity to choose from more than 50 education sessions supporting our Health & Wellness Pillar. Here is just a sample of the range of topics related to this Pillar:
Community Assets to Improve Rural Health Through Parks and Recreation
Rural communities experience many challenges, but across America, these communities possess strengths and assets that can be leveraged to support well-being and equity. Rural or smalltown park and recreation agencies have a large impact on the health and well-being of their communities. They often fill many roles but can be limited in capacity. National experts from the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and local partners at the Louisiana Public Health Institute will share their findings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded regional rural health forums that were held across the country this year. The panel will also discuss specific strategies to help agencies understand how to increase capacity and health impact through their current resources and programs by incorporating health into all aspects of their work and community partnerships.
Designing & Implementing Evidence-Based, Family-Based Programming for Health
A unique partnership between Vanderbilt University Medical Center and four diverse park and recreation centers across the country has resulted in an evidence- and family-based program that has been proven to reduce childhood obesity. Come hear from park and rec staff and leaders who have participated in adapting this program to their community, and have witnessed the healthy behavior change that resulted in both parents and children. Get a glimpse of the future of supporting health in communities through parks and recreation. The presenters will discuss strategies to advance health in your community by addressing program design, implementation, assessment, sustainability and strategies to work with partners. This innovative approach simultaneously creates programming for parents and preschool children.
Innovative Community Gardening and Its Role in Social Justice and Community Resilience
Urban agriculture is growing in popularity across the country, and attendees of this session will have the opportunity to learn best practices for planning and managing community truly equitable and sustainable garden programs. Community gardens not only provide communities with fresh food, but can also be places for neighbors to come together and learn about native ecology, sustainable gardening practices and much more. Community gardeners on public lands across the country are thinking outside the traditional community garden box to engage and provide valuable resources for all community members. This session, which straddles all three NRPA Pillars — Social Equity, Health & Wellness and Conservation — will highlight grassroots initiatives building community resilience through inclusive and innovative activities.
For a complete list of health and wellness and all other education sessions and to register for the conference, visit www.nrpa.org/conference2017. We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans, September 26-28.
Tom Crosley is NRPA’s Senior Manager of Education.