December 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 50

Empowering	
Disabled	
veterans
NRPA Adaptive
Recreation Grants

m

anY loCal parK and
reCreation leaderS,
after launching plans to
serve military families with discounts, recognition, and general
recreation, wish to fund more specialized therapeutic services for
returning veterans. nrpa is continuing its partnership with the
united States olympic Committee, paralympic division, to help
its member agencies do just that.
through this partnership, nrpa
provides grants to adaptive recreation programs within park and
recreation agencies that support
injured service members and injured veterans. each agency award
is between $5,000 and $20,000-
and approximately 11 to 15 agencies are funded each year. the
adaptive recreation grants may be
used for equipment, program development, staffing, training, and
compliance efforts related to the
americans with disabilities act.
one benefit of adding an adaptive recreation program to a comprehensive action plan (such as
minnesota's Beyond the Yellow ribbon program) is that a vital network of relationships is already
in place. returning service members are much more likely to take
advantage of adaptive recreation
programs when they have already
established trust and familiarity
with their local parks and rec centers and programs. adaptive recreation programs help disabled
veterans make that tough adjustment to new lifestyles and new
physical challenges. they add fun,
exercise, and friendly competition to that adjustment process.
there is still time to apply for this year's nrpa/uSoC
grants-the deadline for applications is tuesday, January 4, 2011.
to download the grant application, visit www.nrpa.org/usoc/
46	 Parks & Recreation

can make services and resources available. " And that process of self-identification most often begins with connections
made through city employees, service organizations, and religious congregations.
This guided partnership effort does
more, though, than help communities
launch coordinated support services. Under the program guidelines, Yellow Ribbon municipalities are also expected to
conduct periodic reviews of their policies
and programs to make ensure services
are accessible to military members and
their families.
In the case of Stillwater, Minnesota, the
Yellow Ribbon City action plan included
four primary focus areas: veteran care,
family-member care, youth care, and community support. Park and recreation programs and facilities touch on all four focal
points. Other organizations, such as Scout
troops, Veterans of Foreign Wars, hospitals
and businesses, might be able to offer assistance under one or two of those key areas. " It is a powerful thing, having parks
and rec people at the [steering committee]
table, " Kuyper says. Park and recreation
employees are especially knowledgeable
during the planning process in " infusing
support, connecting families, and helping
children. "

Coordinating and Linking
The critical leadership that park and recreation employees can offer becomes
even more important once an action plan
is launched. " Because park and recreation
departments tend to be the most visible

DECEMBER	2010

www.NRPA .ORG

agencies in the community, " Polehna says,
" they are crucial for coordinating activities and linking people together. " Polehna
lists some of his agency's outreach efforts
to military families in the community: free
annual park permits, a picnic for deployed
members returning home from Iraq, a parade and float in honor of veterans killed
in combat, and community-wide efforts to
provide military families with computers
and/or other essentials
Polehna and Kuyper offer other simple
ideas for park agencies wishing to support
service members and their families: offering free or discounted passes to recreation centers, coordinating care-package
drives, targeting military kids and spouses
for youth camp PR, organizing special luncheons for grandmothers (or other extended family members of deployed men and
women), and hosting re-integration events
and classes for returning veterans. In addition to passes, drives and programs,
basic recreation-oriented events offer coveted escapes for stressed military families. Picnics, games, reunions, concerts,
lessons, and holiday events create memorable opportunities to reconnect with
family, friends, and the community at large.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is designed so
that no one agency works independently
of others. So, while park agencies provide
important steering, facilities, and programming, other key players in the local support
partnership could include government officials, police departments, churches,
businesses, veterans' organizations, and
citizen volunteer groups.



December 2010 - Parks & Recreation

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