NRPA Report Reveals Importance of Parks

A new report from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the "2023 Engagement With Parks Report," revealed that local parks and recreation facilities are a crucial part of Americans' everyday lives. More than 280 million people in the United States visited a local park or recreation facility at least once during the past year, the report showed.

Based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, the report shows the public’s affinity toward their local parks and recreation is strong, with many residents seeking high-quality parks and recreation when choosing a place to live, and that parks continue to be places for rest, relaxation, celebration and fellowship. Local recreation, community and senior centers offer residents a place to exercise, learn and commune; they also provide children with out-of-school opportunities, giving parents peace of mind that their children are cared for while they fulfill work and life obligations.

Some key findings from the survey include:

  • Seven in 10 residents have at least one local park, playground, open space or recreation center within walking distance of their homes.
  • 84% of U.S. adults seek high-quality parks and recreation when choosing a place to live.
  • Visitors who find their parks and recreational facilities to be inclusive visit nearly two times as often as those who do not hold this view.
  • 88% of U.S. adults agree it is vital for their local park and recreation agencies to engage with every member of their communities to ensure offerings meet their needs.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of survey respondents said local and state government funding for parks is either extremely important or very important, and most U.S. adults favor making additional investments to enhance park and recreation infrastructure and programming, with the highest support for improving outdoor and indoor facilities, as well as making facilities more accessible.

“The results of this year’s report demonstrate that parks and recreation should be accessible, inclusive, high quality and nearby,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “The public’s strong and broad-based support for parks and recreation solidifies the case made to local elected officials, stakeholders and the media for greater and more sustainable funding for this essential function.”

The 2023 Engagement With Parks Report is an annual research series from NRPA, published each fall, that tracks the general public’s interaction with and support for public parks. The findings provide park and recreation professionals, policymakers and other key stakeholders with insights on the importance local parks and recreation facilities play in the lives of all people. 

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