August 2021 - 16

RESEARCH
New Report Reveals That Parks and
Recreation Advances Health Equity
By Kevin Roth
T
oday's parks and recreation is a community wellness hub that
connects people with essential programs, services and spaces that
advance health equity, improve health outcomes and enhance
quality of life. NRPA soon will publish results from a survey of
park and recreation professionals that highlights how this integrated approach
advances physical, social and mental health outcomes in nearly every
city, town and county across the nation.
Advancing Health and
Well-Being
The Parks and Recreation: Advancing
Community Health and Well-Being
report finds park and recreation
professionals view themselves and
their peers as leaders in advancing
health and well-being in their communities.
Delivering
Vital Physical
and Mental Health Services
Park and recreation professionals
and their agencies advance the physical
health of community members.
Five in six park and recreation agencies
offer in-person fitness and exercise
programs while nearly three in
four offer virtual fitness and exercise
programs. Parks and recreation
also promotes access to healthy, affordable
and locally sourced food,
including community
gardening
programs (49 percent) and nutrition
education offerings (47 percent).
Park and recreation professionals
and their agencies also focus on
their community's mental health.
Nine in 10 park and recreation
agencies host community events
where residents can relax, have fun
and simply connect with family and
friends. Nearly as many agencies
offer volunteer and community ser16
Parks & Recreation | A UGUS T 2 0 2 1
vice opportunities. More than four
in five park and recreation agencies
offer mindfulness programs (e.g.,
meditation, yoga, nature walks) that
help mitigate day-to-day stress and
anxiety, as well as support coping
and positive decision making.
Education and Economic
Opportunities
Park and recreation services deliver
educational and enrichment opportunities
for both children and young
adults - from providing tutoring
and mentoring to being places of
first employment. Sixty-one percent
of park and recreation agencies offer
in-person academic and enrichment
programs for area youth and
52 percent of agencies offer similar
services virtually. In addition, many
agencies provide leadership programs
(45 percent) and mentoring
opportunities (43 percent) for their
communities' youth.
The Legacy of COVID-19
Programs and Innovations
Since the start of the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic, park and
recreation professionals met the
challenge to ensure their community
members remained mentally and
physically healthy, safe, and not
| PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G
forgotten. This included launching
new offerings and reimaging preexisting
ones. Many of these innovations
will continue post-pandemic.
Elevating Healthy Equity
Nine in 10 park and recreation
agencies are taking specific actions
to ensure that their health and wellness
programs and services promote
health equity. Seventy-two percent
of park and recreation professionals
indicate that their agencies are
transparent and accountable to key
stakeholders, staff and the public;
70 percent report that their agencies
make training staff on diversity, equity
and inclusion a priority.
Conclusions
At their core, park and recreation
professionals and their agencies
protect the health of all people and
the communities where they live,
learn, work and play. Across the
country, park and recreation professionals
have transformed themselves
into
public
health
leaders
-
meeting community members
where they are and connecting them
to needed health opportunities.
As we look toward the future, it is
clear that parks and recreation is in
a unique position to develop bigger,
bolder and more equitable solutions
that confront today's public health
challenges while building a culture
that prioritizes wellness.
Kevin Roth is NRPA's Vice President of
Research, Evaluation and Technology
(kroth@nrpa.org).

August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of August 2021

August 2021 - Intro
August 2021 - Cover1
August 2021 - Cover2
August 2021 - 1
August 2021 - 2
August 2021 - 3
August 2021 - 4
August 2021 - 5
August 2021 - 6
August 2021 - 7
August 2021 - 8
August 2021 - 8a
August 2021 - 8b
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August 2021 - Cover3
August 2021 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com