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The 2022 Engagement With Parks Report tells us that more than 275 million people across our nation went to a park and recreation facility at least once during the past year. For some, it meant taking a brisk walk or bike ride around a park, or swimming at a community pool, to better their physical and mental health. For others, it was children participating in myriad out-of-school time programming or youth sports leagues. For even others, it was connecting with neighbors at a local festival or taking a well-being class. Because each person has a unique personal relationship with parks and recreation, they may not have a complete understanding of every way your agency affects the lives of the community every day.
That is where the NRPA Park Pulse poll comes in. Since 2017, the NRPA Research team has partnered with Wakefield Research each month to ask 1,000 adults ages 18 and older questions related to the park and recreation field. The results highlight the wide variety of programming, offerings and amenities that make up parks and recreation.
Consider the NRPA Park Pulse polls results over the past year:
- January: Ninety-four percent of U.S. adults have a health and wellness goal for the new year, including eating better, reducing stress, starting or increasing exercise, and going outside more.
- February: Ninety-six percent of U.S. adults agree there are important benefits that teenagers and young adults gain from their first jobs and volunteer opportunities, including developing skills, gaining valuable work experience, and building confidence.
- March: Ninety-eight percent of U.S. adults agree that providing youth with equitable access to sports opportunities is important.
- April: Ninety-four percent of U.S. adults agree it is essential for children and young adults to learn about the environment and ways they can help be good environmental stewards.
- May: Eighty-eight percent of U.S. adults agree it is crucial for the public to have access to first-aid training and certification opportunities, including first-aid training for park and recreation staff and the general public.
- June: Eighty-one percent of U.S. adults want parks and recreation to ensure inclusivity through policies and practices that consider people of all mental and physical abilities, as well as ethnic, religious, racial, cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds or orientations.
- July: Six in seven U.S. adults agree it is helpful that they and their families have access to the outdoors and nature during stressful times, including by sitting on a park bench during a lunch break or hiking through a forest.
- August: Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults say they are likely to vote for a political candidate (e.g., mayor, county executive/president, council member, congressperson) who makes park and recreation funding a priority.
- September: More than one in four U.S. adults say they are unsure of their access to locally-grown food or it is not easy for them and their families to find locally-grown food.
- October: U.S. adults say having opportunities for playing sports and taking part in other physical activities, job training or developing a skill, and access to nutritious meals are among the most beneficial offerings for youth outside of school.
- November: Eighty-eight percent of U.S. adults want their local park and recreation agencies to provide adaptive and inclusive recreation programming so persons of all abilities may participate.
- December: People of all stripes attend holiday-themed events hosted and sponsored by park and recreation agencies.
We present each month’s Park Pulse poll result here in Parks & Recreation magazine and on our website, including an infographic and detailed data showing the responses by different demographic groups. We also share each month’s poll results on our social media channels. Many park and recreation agencies use the results as an opportunity to highlight their own programming and amenities.
If you have a suggestion for a future poll topic, please let my colleague Melissa May know by emailing her. We would love to hear from you about your poll idea and how your agency uses the results to tell your park and recreation story.
Kevin Roth is Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Technology at NRPA.