Where Community Grows

June 22, 2023, Department, by Kristine Stratton

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

It’s Park and Recreation Month! I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s theme: “Where Community Grows.” From the cover story in this issue of Parks & Recreation magazine to the countless social media posts we will see throughout the course of July, this is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s the time for us to showcase the essential role that parks and recreation plays in communities and the fact that parks and recreation helps communities grow in myriad ways.

Many of you have downloaded the Park and Recreation Month toolkit and customized it for your communities. Many of you also have used the opportunity to secure formal proclamations recognizing Park and Recreation Month and the vital importance of this field. If you have achieved proclamations, we would love to hear from you. Please share them with us at prmagazine@nrpa.org. And, please tag us in your Park and Recreation Month social media posts, using @NRPA on Instagram, @NRPA_news on Twitter, and @National Recreation and Park Association on Facebook and LinkedIn. The more we use our voices to lift up our importance, and the more we use our platforms to tell our stories, the more support we can expect from our communities.

The theme of Where Community Grows also is about our community — our park and recreation profession. Through our commitment to excellence, learning and growing, we ensure this field continues to deliver the community benefits that we are all so proud of — benefits like health and wellness, climate resilience and social connection. In fact, we are one of the few fields that is designed to address the recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General on the epidemic of loneliness and isolation. Parks and recreation is all about making a connection and strengthening the fabric of our community. NRPA is all about strengthening the fabric of our profession.

There is a piece in this issue, “The CAPRA Connection,” that discusses how one particular NRPA program can be a game changer in both helping our community grow and helping to strengthen the fabric of a team. That program is CAPRA, and there are agencies from Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas that speak to how their agencies are better for having gone through the CAPRA accreditation process. This feedback on the program comes up again and again — it depends on a team working together, each playing their part to support the overall goal. It supports learning, growth and improvement — and, yes, the team, department or agency is stronger for having tackled it.

I had the opportunity to participate in the mParks conference in Lansing, Michigan, where Jeanette Aiello from Canton Township led a panel of the accredited agencies in Michigan, titled “CAPRA in Action.” Each of the panelists — Lisa Christensen from Independence Township, and Greg Morris and Tracie Ringle from City of Novi — talked about the challenges and benefits of CAPRA. While each of them stressed the hard work required, they were unequivocal in recognizing what the program did to help their departments learn and grow and help them strengthen their reputations within their communities.

Whether it’s CAPRA, the Park and Recreation Month toolkit, NRPA Connect, or any of the countless other resources we offer, we are committed to helping you grow so that you can ensure parks and recreation is Where YOUR Community Grows.

Kristine Stratton is NRPA's President and CEO.