As park professionals, there’s nothing more satisfying to our ears than the sound of children’s laughter coming from the playground, especially during the summertime. Even if it’s only for a short period, anytime we can persuade kids to put away their mobile devices and go outside to enjoy the fresh air and play in our parks is a small victory for health and wellness advocates. The more we can promote healthy lifestyles to our youngest community members, the more likely they will carry those good habits into adulthood.
And, what better time to promote health and wellness than in July with the celebration of Park and Recreation Month! The NRPA team was thrilled to receive so many entries for this year’s Park & Recreation Month Cover Contest and to see how people embraced this year’s theme: Game On! We reviewed hundreds of photo submissions and had a very difficult time whittling down that number to 10 finalists. But, of course, there can only be one winner and the public has chosen! Congratulations to Bob Gibson who earned top honors for his photo of Juno Beach Pier and Juno Beach Park. Gibson, a resident of Palm Beach County, Florida, photographs different parks in the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department’s system. He then submits them to the park department to help raise awareness and promote its offerings. In this month’s cover story, titled “Balancing Act: Beach, Pier and Ocean Usage at Juno Beach Park” on page 40, NRPA Communications Manager Cort Jones spoke with Chris Korbelak, CPRP, manager of the office of public engagement for Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, who highlights the Responsible Pier Initiative at Juno Beach Pier and some of the events taking place in Juno Beach Park, and shares how the community rallied around the photo that Korbelak submitted to earn the coveted July cover.
While park agencies throughout the country are kicking their summer recreation programming into high gear, Lynchburg (Virginia) Parks & Recreation is launching Sibshops, a program series designed to support typically developing children who have siblings diagnosed with intellectual or developmental disabilities. In the feature, titled “The Ties that Bind” on page 46, contributor Vitisia Paynich takes a closer look at how Lynchburg is working to meet this community need with events that encourage participants to have fun, laugh and openly share their feelings about the good and not-so-good aspects of having a special needs sibling.
Are you beginning to pull together your schedule for the NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore? Be sure to check out some of our conference offerings starting on page 52. After all, the calendar may still say summer, but it’s never too early to start planning for fall!
Finally, check out the annual Playground Guide supplement, included with this month’s issue. Several of the companies listed there will be at conference, so here’s your chance to check them out and learn about what’s trending on playgrounds.
Gina Mullins-Cohen is the Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director of Parks & Recreation magazine.