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

Feature Story

February 2020

NRPA Launches Mentoring in Parks and Rec

By Chandler Garland

In January, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) announced a new initiative to expand and support mentoring programs in parks and recreation: Mentoring in Parks and Rec: Connecting Communities, Cultivating Leaders. All throughout January—National Mentoring Month—NRPA released a series of blogs, social media posts and more related to this initiative and the importance of mentoring.

Local parks and recreation agencies provide many opportunities for youth to engage in positive social experiences and form strong, healthy connections with adults. Through this initiative, NRPA will support local park and recreation agencies in their efforts to build effective and evidence-based mentorship programs that connect youth with caring and compassionate mentors while strengthening connections across communities.

"NRPA is excited to introduce its Mentoring in Parks and Rec initiative dedicated to supporting park and recreation professionals as they implement mentoring programs for at-risk and vulnerable youth," said Kellie May, NRPA vice president of programs and partnerships. "As public health threats continue to impact our communities, evidence-based mentorship programs have the power to provide essential connections to people, community and opportunity, keeping youth on the path to success."

Mentoring plays a key role in preventing young people from engaging in risky and harmful behaviors, while keeping them engaged in positive activities that build confidence, empower decision-making, and enhance relationships with peers, adults and community. At-risk youth who have a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college and 46% less likely to use drugs than youth without mentors. Unfortunately, one in three young people in the United States reaches age 19 without a mentor of any kind. This includes the 9 million at-risk youth who are missing critical support and connections that mentoring can provide.

Park and recreation agencies are well-suited to help close this gap by offering one-on-one and group mentoring programs that support and nurture youth. Through Mentoring in Parks and Rec, NRPA will work with partners to develop resources that agencies and their staff can use to develop or expand programs and help youth gain access to quality mentors.

To support local park and recreation agencies in the development and implementation of effective mentoring programs, NRPA's newly launched Mentoring in Parks and Rec website provides access to numerous resources, including:

  • NRPA's Youth Mentoring Framework
  • Mentoring to Address Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Mentorship in Rural, Central Appalachia for Youth Impacted by Opioids
  • Resource and research database
  • The National Mentoring Partnership's Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring
  • Family engagement resources
  • Law enforcement engagement resources
  • Substance use prevention resources

These resources are partially funded through a three-year program (grant #2018-JU-FX-0036) supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

To learn more, visit

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