June 2021 - 14

W E A R E P A R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N

Leveraging Partnerships to Achieve Broader
Health Equity Goals
By Erik Pearson

P

ark and recreation agencies, as essential parts of their communities,
are uniquely positioned to address health equity issues - especially those that include access to nutritious food and opportunities
to be physically active. Equity issues can be tackled most effectively through quality partnerships that allow agencies to diversify offerings to
reach underserved areas. Regardless of a community's size or resources, an
agency that provides recreation services to the community can build powerful partnerships to accomplish health and wellness goals. The City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department did just that through its unique
partnership with the Indiana University (IU) School of Public Health and its
newly created Department of Health and Wellness Design.
Located in south central Indiana,
Bloomington is home to IU and its
Department of Recreation, Park and
Tourism Studies. " [The department]
was founded in 1946 and has been a
distinct academic department since
its inception, " says Dr. Sarah Young,
professor and interim chair of the IU
Department of Health and Wellness
Design. " The department was faced
not only with fitting into an accredited school of public health, but was
also tasked with how to develop future scholars who could conduct research at the intersection of health,
wellness and traditional recreation
programming. The department underwent a critical self-study, identifying research and curricular connections between recreation, park,
tourism and public health. "
The faculty of the reimagined
department is committed to studying various innovative approaches,
methods and strategies to enable optimal health for all people with equity, dignity and impact.
The department will rely on
academic programs within recre-

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ation, outdoor and tourism to set
the stage for the concept of health
and wellness design. As this change
takes root and grows, it will expand
to encompass additional areas of
study into its conceptual framework. We envision graduates from
the department will go on to work
in applying a health and wellness
lens to management in diverse sites,
such as tourism and hospitality
venues, parks and protected areas,
community recreation facilities,
government public health agencies,
nonprofit organizations, universities, private industries, hospital and
healthcare systems, and research
centers. Central to their work will
be the knowledge, skills and abilities
to create a positive impact on health
through systems. As health needs
and challenges evolve, the power of
designing and promoting healthy
experiences to enhance human
well-being has never been more relevant as in the 21st century.
Although earlier partnerships
were more informal handshake
agreements among park and recre-

ation staff and IU, the partnership
has been annually formalized, reviewed and approved by the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Board
of Park Commissioners since 2008.
While the details of the collaboration have evolved over time, the
guiding principles remain the same:
*	 Bloomington Parks and Recreation provides staff as guest
speakers, adjunct faculty, members of boards and committees,
and as student mentors.
*	 IU Department of Health and
Wellness Design students have opportunities for internships, service
learning, field experience and seasonal employment with Bloomington Parks and Recreation.
*	 Bloomington Parks and Recreation and the IU School of
Public Health collaborate on the
development of organizational
plans and research efforts.
*	 IU Department of Health and
Wellness Design offers reduced
tuition for two Bloomington
Parks and Recreation staff members for the annual Indiana University Executive Development
Program for Parks and Recreation Professionals.
By sharing professional experience and research information, the
IU School of Public Health can observe and study applications in the
field and provide Bloomington Parks
and Recreation with evolving methodologies to shape how the agency
can provide programs that positively impact the health and wellness



June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of June 2021

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June 2021 - Cover3
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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