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

Feature Story

July 2019

NRPA, Disney Award Play Space Grants

By Dave Ramont

The Meet Me at the Park program—a collaboration between the National Recreation and Park Association and the Walt Disney Company—aims to increase access to play spaces in local parks for children and families across the country. Recently the NRPA announced the recipients of the program's 2019 Play Spaces grants, part of a $1 million donation by Disney. The funding also provides the NRPA with resources used to promote the benefits of play to communities nationwide.

Included among the 25 projects receiving $30,000 grants in 2019 are the Linford Park inclusive playground in Belmont, N.C.; the Mobile Playground in Chesterfield County, Va.; Clark Park soccer field in Houston; and the revitalization of Howard Park in South Bend, Ind.

Kellie May, vice president of programs at NRPA, said the NRPA is proud to award these cities and agencies with grant funding that will support increased access to play and physical activity in cities across the country. "We thank the Walt Disney Company for its commitment to this cause. Its ongoing support is essential to the work we do, especially with children and families who don't have access to quality play spaces, and to our vision that everyone deserves a great park," she said.

According to an evaluation of the program, parks with renovated play areas under the Meet Me in the Park initiative experienced positive effects, including an increase in visitors engaging in moderate or vigorous physical activity.

In Port Huron, Mich., kids and families are learning to ride bikes while experiencing fun activities at various stops along the Sprout City Tike Trak. The stops in this kid-size town include discovery tables, sensory boards and braille signs, imaginative play houses, a sandbox and raised bed gardens that the children helped plant.

A community garden including an active play space was created in Pine Bluff, Ark. The addition of the garden helps enhance an underdeveloped section of the community by encouraging gardening and sustainable activities.

Children and adults had few opportunities for accessible outdoor play and recreation in Burlington, Vt. But now the popular Oakledge Park has added the world's first universally accessible treehouse, accessible bocce courts and a newly renovated accessibility-driven restroom facility.

The Meet Me in the Park program is part of NRPA and Disney's commitment to provide one million kids and families with greater access to safe, inclusive and innovative play spaces. Since 2015, the two have worked together on more than 130 park improvement projects.

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