Unleashing the Power of Parks

November 30, 2023, Department, by Dan McCarthy

1223 advocacy 410

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

‘Outdoors For All’ takes center stage at the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference

“Where Community Grows” — this theme guided the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference as thousands of park and recreation professionals, advocates and enthusiasts came together from across the country. As trusted community pillars, we are united by a common goal: to make outdoor spaces inclusive and welcoming to all.

However, we know that not everyone has equal access to the life-affirming experiences parks and recreation offers, and that’s where the “Outdoors For All” grassroots campaign comes in. This campaign aims to make the outdoors accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or ability.

As NRPA President and CEO Kristine Stratton noted in her Opening General Session remarks: “Every person — no matter their ZIP code — should have access to quality green spaces. The Outdoors For All Act will guarantee that future generations have access to quality parks and green spaces and the social, physical and mental health benefits they provide.”

Outdoors For All Act: A Vision of Inclusion

The Outdoors For All Act outlines a world where everyone — regardless of age, physical or cognitive abilities, socioeconomic background, or race — has the opportunity to experience the benefits of the outdoors. As park and recreation professionals, we know the benefits of increased access to the outdoors. Nature can heal, inspire and teach us. At its core, this legislation seeks to break down the barriers that prevent community members from accessing high-quality local green spaces, creating a more equitable outdoor experience for all.

NRPA fervently supports passing the Outdoors For All Act, but we recognize that we cannot do this work alone. Our campaign is a collective endeavor, championed by organizations, community leaders and individuals who recognize the immense value of connecting with the outdoors and the positive impact it can have on physical and mental well-being. By supporting this campaign, we not only champion equal access, but also promote healthier, happier communities.

A Campaign for Everyone

This campaign is a grassroots effort. That means it doesn’t rely on government or large organizations to drive change; it empowers individuals to be catalysts for positive change in their own communities. Everyone, from pickleball players to park directors, can be a part of this movement.

Change begins at the local level, and by rallying people from all walks of life, we can create a groundswell of support that’s impossible for Congress to ignore. NRPA urges everyone to become an advocate for change. To do so, it’s as simple as making your voice heard.

Join the Movement, Make a Difference

As the Outdoors For All campaign gains momentum, you have the opportunity to be part of the park and recreation movement that transforms lives and communities across the country. In joining this campaign, you become a steward of the natural world, an advocate for your community and a champion of equity.

So, take a step today and visit the Outdoors For All website. Learn more about the campaign, share your experiences and make your voice heard by your members of Congress. By speaking directly to your representatives about the importance of inclusive outdoor spaces, we can push the conversation forward in Washington, D.C., and make a real difference. Text OUTDOORS to 1.888.991.5955 to sign up for NRPA’s Action Alerts and learn how you can make your voice heard.

Throughout only a few days during the conference in Dallas, we sent more than 500 letters to members of Congress, urging them to pass the Outdoors For All Act. In the weeks since, NRPA members across the country have kept up the drumbeat for outdoors truly for all, no matter who you are or where you come from.

Together, we can create a more inclusive, connected and vibrant outdoor world that benefits us all.

Dan McCarthy is Senior Manager of Advocacy at NRPA.