A Year of Growth and Renewed Purpose

November 30, 2023, Department, by Vitisia "Vi" Paynich

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For an enhanced digital experience, read this story in the ezine.

It’s that time of year, again, when the Parks & Recreation magazine team reflects on the many inspiring stories centered on NRPA’s Three Pillars — health and wellness, equity, and conservation — that have graced the pages of this publication. From articles covering climate-resilient park projects to newly launched Community Wellness Hubs in under-resourced neighborhoods, Parks & Recreation has been there to chronicle this work and bring awareness to the challenges and social injustices that exist in communities across the country. We do that by lifting up the voices of park and recreation professionals, community advocates as well as industry thought leaders every month.

In fact, one particular thought leader is featured in this month’s cover story, “Courtside With Katrina Adams,” on page 36. The former professional tennis player and past president and chair of the United States Tennis Association discusses how parks and recreation introduced her to the sport at an early age, as well as paved the way for her successful professional tennis career as a player and coach. Most importantly, Adams discusses what park and recreation agencies can do to encourage youth to embrace tennis by first engaging their parents or guardians. She says it’s about “making sure that we are proving to the parents that tennis is a sport for a lifetime; that it is healthy for the mind, body and soul; that it is an equitable sport in so many different ways; and that it can offer friends for a lifetime and healthy benefits for a lifetime.”

If you joined us at the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference this past October, you likely heard Adams speak. For those who couldn’t make it to Dallas, no problem, because Managing Editor Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor Alexandra Reynolds and Chris Brummet, production coordinator, provide a full recap of the event in the article, “2023 NRPA Annual Conference Highlights,” on page 46. Nearly 9,000 park and recreation professionals converged at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for networking, education and exhibit hall activities. In fact, “nearly 500 vendors filled the hall during the first two days of conference. Park and recreation professionals spoke with experts on services, equipment and products, finding opportunities to enhance their agencies’ operations, facilities, programming and services,” they report.

Next, in the article, “2019 Parks Build Community Project Revisited,” on page 42, contributor Aaron Hipp, Ph.D., and NRPA’s Dianne Palladino, Ph.D., and Austin Barrett, Ph.D., share findings from the recently concluded five-year evaluation project of the ABC/Catherine Street Park renovation. The research includes park-use data and adult satisfaction ratings toward park amenities and facilities.

As 2023 draws to a close, I want to thank you, our members, readers and partners, for all that you do to keep your community members happy, healthy and thriving. It’s your invaluable expertise and dedication to your craft that inspire our own work on the magazine and at NRPA. Learning how you make a profound difference in people’s lives renews our own sense of purpose and responsibility of telling your stories and showing everyone why parks and recreation is essential to ensuring the health and well-being of all.

Vitisia “Vi” Paynich is Executive Editor and Director of Print and Online Content at NRPA.