By Cort Jones, Communications Manager, National Recreation and Park Association
For over 30 years, America has designated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month. During the month of July, we not only celebrate all the fun and exciting programs that are offered at local parks and recreation centers across the country, but also the critical role that parks and recreation plays in the communities it serves every single day. However, some of the offerings and efforts of these agencies are unknown to the members of the community. This July, we want to make sure that changes.
When people think of parks and recreation, they often envision playgrounds, swimming pools, sports leagues and summer camps, but parks and recreation is so much more than that. The National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) theme for this year’s Park and Recreation Month is A Lifetime of Discovery. With the efforts of local parks and recreation agencies, partner organizations, local and state representatives, and the public, NRPA wants to highlight the often “undiscovered” roles and programs that local park and recreation agencies provide. This July, join in on the fun and encourage your patients and clients to discover how your local park and recreation agency is improving health outcomes in your community!
Physical Activity and Nutrition
Parks and recreation agencies in over 47 states are inspiring a new generation to embrace a healthier lifestyle! Through NRPA’s Commit to Health campaign, over 1,650 park and recreation sites have pledged to implement the evidence-based Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. Sites are providing healthier options at meal and snack times, providing 60-minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day, limiting digital device and screen time, and providing evidence-based nutrition education to youth and families across generations. Over 300,000 youth at summer camps and afterschool programs are consuming more fruits and vegetables, engaging in more physical activity with their peers and families, going grocery shopping and cooking as a family, and spending time outdoors. Often, park and recreation agencies are maximizing partnerships in their communities and working with health care professionals, fitness instructors, and nutritionists to increase their impact.
Enrichment Opportunities for All Community Members
The park and recreation field is not only focused on improving access to healthy foods and physical activity, but is also deeply invested in providing educational opportunities. Parks and recreation works to ensure that youth in all communities, including low-income neighborhoods, have access to enrichment opportunities ranging from academic tutoring; visual and performing arts; and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. These opportunities empower youth and teach them lessons that they can take back into the classroom or into future careers.
One of the greatest community assets that parks and recreation provides is access to green space and the opportunity to connect with nature. Exposure to nature and green space reduces stress and anxiety and improves mental health outcomes. In addition to fostering a connection to nature and serving as healthy living coaches and leaders, parks and recreation staff have the unique ability to connect these educational offerings to physical activity, nutrition, and environmental education. Additionally, parks offer a place for people across generations to continue learning, engage socially, and develop new interests.
Parks and recreation centers are hubs for connecting with friends and family and participating in life-changing programs, education, and physical activity. I challenge you to connect with your local park and recreation agency to learn how you can help your patients and clients improve their health and connect to the community.
We can’t wait to celebrate Park and Recreation Month this July, and we know that there’s nothing quite like the joy of discovering something new — so head out to your local parks and recreation centers and uncover a lifetime of discovery! Share your discoveries on social media using the hashtag #DiscoverJuly.
Spread the word! Share this post and promote National Park and Recreation Month with your networks with this sample tweet: A lifetime of discovery awaits you at your local park! Celebrate Park and Recreation Month this July with @nrpa_news! #DiscoverJuly https://bit.ly/2zub2bR
Learn more by visiting www.nrpa.org/july.
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recreation, and conservation. Follow NRPA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates about resources, research, and other activities.