Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

November 2017

New Initiative Aims to Ensure All Have Access to Parks & Rec

By Chandler Garland

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) officially launched the Parks for Inclusion Initiative at the 2017 NRPA annual conference in late September. NRPA will partner with Lakeshore and the Nation Center for Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) as part of a pledge to the Commit to Inclusion Campaign. Designed by the Partnership for Inclusive Health, the Commit to Inclusion Campaign aims to end exclusion of people with disabilities from physical activity and associated areas. NRPA and its partners will work to ensure that all people have access to the benefits of local parks and recreation facilities.

Lakeshore and the NCHPAD are both nonprofit organizations that provide resources for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Lakeshore, based in Birmingham Ala., seeks to enable people with disabilities to lead healthy, active and independent lifestyles through activities, sports, advocacy, policy and research. The NCHPAD is a public health practice and resource that helps the disabled achieve health benefits through increased participation in physical and social actives. They mainly work through consultations and individualized information.

"We are pleased to partner with the National Recreation and Park Association on this inclusion initiative," said Lakeshore President Jeff Underwood. "Lakeshore and NCHPAD are committed to using our expertise and resources to help remove barriers which prevent people with disabilities from taking full advantage of opportunities in parks and recreation programs. Our hope is that by helping to facilitate better access, people will be more inclined to be physically active, which leads to a more healthy and independent lifestyle."

NRPA, Lakeshore and NCHPAD will work together to expand inclusion in current initiatives and programs, to provide resources and technical assistance to local parks and recreation agencies, and to calculate impacts in order to create best practices across the field of parks and recreation.

A survey was distributed by NRPA to its members to assess the ways in which inclusive practices are being introduced to facilities and to project what resources will be needed. A full report of this survey's findings will be released this fall.

The NRPA's Parks for Inclusion Initiative will follow nine guidelines:

  1. Ensure objectives and agency policies strategically include people with disabilities.
  2. Involve people with disabilities in development and implementation.
  3. Promote accessibility in physical environments, program structures, communication methods and social components.
  4. Accommodate the needs of participants with disabilities.
  5. Target outreach programs and use inclusive language an imagery in dissemination methods.
  6. Account for cost considerations and feasibility.
  7. Prioritize affordability.
  8. Implement process evaluations and participant feedback.
  9. Evaluate outcomes

The initiative will also include the promotion of inclusivity for other marginalized communities, such as the LGBTQ community and ethnic, racial and multicultural communities. "NRPA is proud to partner with the Lakeshore Foundation and NCHPAD on this new initiative," said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, NRPA president and CEO. "Our goal is to ensure everyone—regardless of income, race or ability—is able to enjoy the benefits that parks and recreation provide."

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