December 2019

People's Choice Awards Honors Whirligig Park in North Carolina

The American Planning Association (APA) has announced the winners of the annual People’s Choice Awards, which honors Great Places in America. Individuals are invited to offer suggestions via APA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, with final voting taking place at the APA website. This year’s top designee is Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson, N.C. Other top vote-getters included Nicollet Commons Park in Burnsville, Minn., and Davis Square in Somerville, Mass. They join 300 other public spaces, neighborhoods and streets honored by APA since the program’s launch in 2007.

NSF International Adds New Standards for Interactive Water Play

NSF International has just established new minimum criteria for safety flooring at interactive water play venues. A step toward making recreational splash parks and water venues safer, the new section of NSF/ANSI 50: Equipment and Chemicals for Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and Other Recreational Water Facilities addresses six performance-based requirements.

ACSM: Wearable Tech, HIIT Are Top Fitness Trends for 2020

For the second straight year, health and fitness professionals across the globe chose wearable tech the top fitness trend in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020. The survey, in its 14th year, sent professionals 38 trends to rank from 1 to 10, with 1 being least trendy. The use of a smartwatch or fitness tracker to check on exercise, heart rate, calorie consumption or sleep quality is an enduring trend; wearable tech has been the top trend almost every year since 2016.

TPL Looks to Schoolyards to Improve Park Access

Creating parks and protecting land for people is the mission of the nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the organization continues to work toward its goal of having residents in every city and town live within a 10-minute walk of a park. One proven way to accomplish this is by transforming schoolyards and making them available during non-school hours to the general public. So far, TPL has worked in dozens of cities across the United States to make this happen.

November 2019

Meet Me at the Park Grant Program Reaches More than a Million Kids

In 2017, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The Walt Disney Company launched their “Meet Me at The Park Play Spaces” grant program with the ambitious goal of bringing new play and physical activity projects to more than a million children and families nationwide. Now, in less than three years, the campaign has more than achieved this goal by reaching more than 1 million children and families in 39 states with $2.3 million in grants to facilitate new projects for 75 parks nationwide.

PHTA Recognizes Achievements in Aquatics

Earlier this year, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) joined forces with the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) to form the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), with a mission to “Celebrate the Water.” And recently, the PHTA announced the winners of the 2019 Awards Program, which recognizes outstanding achievements and performers in the pool, spa and hot tub industry. The award winners were honored at the PHTA Awards Reception, held on Nov. 4 in New Orleans.

Know the Dangers of Unauthorized Entry

Following another vehicle too closely is described as 'tailgating.' But in the security realm, when someone who lacks proper authentication seeks entry to a restricted area by simply walking in behind someone who is authorized, this is also termed 'tailgating.' The authorized person may unknowingly do this, or might even innocently hold the door open for the unauthorized intruder, who may even be wearing a uniform.

Survey Says: Americans Love Their Parks

The NRPA's fourth annual Engagement with Parks Report is chock-full of evidence that Americans love their parks. According to the survey of 1,000 adults aged 18 and up, 93% believe natural resources should be protected via acquisition and maintenance of local parks, trails and green spaces; and 85% consider park and recreation opportunities an importance factor when choosing a new place to live. Respondents also cited the various ways they use parks and recreational resources in their communities.

October 2019

NRPA Awards Grants to 10 Communities to Expand Park Access

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) recently announced that 10 communities will receive grant funding in support of city planning and policy efforts to increase access to high-quality, close-to-home parks and public green space.

CPSC Awards Pool Safely Grants

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently announced the awardees of its Pool Safely Grant Program (PGSP), which aims to prevent pool and spa drownings, as well as drain entrapments. Five state and local governments were selected by the CPSC to receive around $1.1 million in FY 2019 PGSP grant funds, which will provide them with assistance for education, training and enforcement of pool safety requirements that are intended to save lives and prevent serious injuries.

NCAA Announces AASP Grant Recipients

The NCAA recently announced recipients of its seventh round of grants for the Accelerating Academic Success Program (AASP), which aim to assist schools in improving the academic success of their student athletes. Those receiving grants this year will fund academic support services staffing and space, technology upgrades, career planning, professional development and increased availability of summer financial aid for student-athletes.

$170.6 Million in LWCF Grants to Support Parks & Outdoor Recreation

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has announced a total of $170,623,713 in grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 States, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects. Each state will receive a predetermined portion based on population size.

September 2019

High School Sports Participation Declines for the First Time in 30 Years

During the 2017-18 school year the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7,980,886. But in 2018-19, participation declined for the first time in 30 years, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) annual High School Athletics Participation survey.

TPL Suggests Schoolyards as Park-Access Solution

The Trust for Public Land recently released a report that details how public school grounds across America could be tapped to help solve the issue of park access for more than 19 million people—including 5.2 million children—who currently do not have a park within a 10-minute walk of home.

New Study May Change Use of Chlorine Stabilizers in Swimming Pools

According to a new study published in the June edition of the journal Water, swimming pool operators should be using a maximum cyanuric acid to free chlorine ppm ratio of 20 to 1 to maintain stable chlorine levels and safely disinfect the water for use by swimmers.

High School Sports Participation Declines for the First Time in 30 Years

During the 2017-18 school year the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7,980,886. But in 2018-19, participation declined for the first time in 30 years, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) annual High School Athletics Participation survey.

City Parks Alliance on Park Funding & Equity

City parks are at the center of resilient and equitable cities, according to Catherine Nagel, executive director for City Parks Alliance. In a recent effort to assist cities with addressing park equity and implementing innovative strategies when it comes to funding for parks and green infrastructure, the alliance commissioned a report that looks at 20 funding models and their equity considerations in cities of various sizes across the United States. The research revealed new sources of funding, as well as strategies that are shaping funding decisions through an equity lens.

August 2019

Survey Reveals Top Outdoor Recreation Activities

After a long and cold winter, many are excited to get outdoors to enjoy the summer sun—and most turn to their local park and recreation centers for outdoor activities. In fact, according to a recent poll by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), around 91% of Americans are projected to participate in an outdoor recreation activity hosted by their local park and recreation agency this summer. The survey also captures data on Americans’ favorite activities to do at their local parks.

Pediatricians Urge Communities to Provide Swim Lessons for All

Communities are being advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to make water safety a No. 1 priority, as well as ensure that swim lessons are accessible for everyone.

Report: Tennis Participation Remains Consistent

Recently, the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), in partnership with the Physical Activity Council (PAC), published the 26-page Tennis Participation Report, which includes data through the end of 2018. Overall tennis participation has remained somewhat consistent in recent years, with an average annual change of -0.4 percent from 2010 to 2018. The total number of tennis participants in 2018 grew by 0.9 percent over 2017, to 17.84 million players.

Survey: Only Half of Collegiate Sports Programs Follow NCAA Model for Student Medical Care

A new survey of college and university athletic trainers shows that 51.73 percent of their collegiate-level sports programs follow the NCAA-legislated independent medical model of care. In addition, 76.26 percent of respondents feel they have medical autonomy—the unchallengeable authority to determine medical management of athletes. The survey was conducted by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (NATA) Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine (ICSM). Results suggest a great need for program evaluations.

July 2019

Fieldhouse Renovated, Expanded at UW-Platteville

Students, faculty and staff now can enjoy the expanded and renovated Williams Fieldhouse at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Some of the upgrades to the fieldhouse include “55,925 square feet of new space and an additional 2,681 square feet of remodeled space” in order to “accommodate UW-Platteville’s increasing enrollment and support the university’s club sports, intramural sports, open recreation and varsity sports programs and the physical education department.”

NRPA, Disney Award Play Space Grants

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.

Swim Clinic Teaches Water Safety Basics

Nearly 50 area youth and adults learned the basics of water safety recently at the Swim 1922 Clinic at the Boys & Girls Club at Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y. The clinic, led by 2004 Olympic silver medalist Maritza McClendon, was put on thanks to a partnership between USA Swimming and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and one of the oldest historically African-American sororities.

Nation's Pediatrics: Put More Emphasis on Enjoyment of Sports

When young children play organized sports, it can lead to long-lasting health benefits for their bodies and minds, as well as improving their self-esteem. And when the focus is on kids having fun during these pursuits—instead of just winning—they’re more likely to stay involved in athletic programs and keep physically fit throughout childhood. This is the message from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recently published a clinical report “Organized Sports for Children, Preadolescents and Adolescents” in the June 2019 issue of Pediatrics.

Diabetes Declines, National DPP Program Helped

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released a new study showing that new cases of diagnosed diabetes in the United States have decreased by 35 percent since reaching a 20-year peak in 2009. This is the first sign that efforts to stop the nation’s diabetes epidemic are working.

June 2019

Washington, D.C., Unseats Minneapolis as Best City Park System

The Trust for Public Land’s 2019 ParkScore index has named Washington, D.C., as the Best City Park System in the United States. This is a leap for the city, which barely outranked Arlington, Va., for third place in the 2018 index. D.C. also unseated the three-year reigning ParkScore champion, Minneapolis, which fell to third place. St. Paul, Minn., maintained its rank of second place.

Survey: Half of Americans Use the Pool as a 'Communal Bathtub'

Swimming pool season is officially upon us. And recently, experts from the Water Quality & Health Council, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) teamed up to release the 2019 Healthy Pools survey. The survey revealed that half of Americans (51 percent) report using the swimming pool as a “communal bathtub.” This might mean using the pool to rinse off after yardwork or exercise, or going swimming as a substitute for showering.

NFL Foundation Helps to Advance Youth Wellness

Now in its fifth year, the NFL-FLAG-In-Schools Program aims to increase physical activity among youth by providing flag football resources to underserved school communities. As a result of the program’s efforts, led by the NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60, 9.1 million students have become more active before, during and after school since 2014. And, about 4,200 NFL FLAG Kits will be distributed across the nation during the 2019-2020 school year, reaching about 2.3 million new students.

Youth Sports Participation Holds Steady in 2018

The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) has been a dependable resource and leading voice for sporting goods dealers and retailers since 1929, and recently it released the 2019 edition of its report on Sports Participation in the United States. The report shows that from 2017 to 2018, overall youth team sports participation for those aged 7 to 17 remained relatively flat (+ 0.3 percent). Participation in tackle football increased by close to 4 percent while youth soccer participation saw a 4 percent decrease in 2018. And of the 57 different sports and activities tracked, 29 showed an increase in female participation of all ages—up from 24 the previous year.

May 2019

Dog Parks Still on the Rise

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently released data on the nation’s dog parks, revealing that 810 off-leash dog parks exist in the country’s 100 largest cities, which represents an increase of 37 parks over 2018. Since 2009, the first year that the survey included dog parks for these cities, their number has increased by 74 percent, or 344 additional dog parks.

USA Swimming Grants Will Boost Learn-to-Swim Programs

The USA Swimming Foundation—the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming—raises funds to support programs that help save lives and strengthen the sport of swimming. Recently it announced that it has awarded more than $500,000 to learn-to-swim programs across the United States, which will help provide swim lessons to more than 25,000 children through the foundation’s Make a Splash Local Partners.

IHRSA: One in Five Americans Belong to at Least One Health Club

Later this year, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) will release the 2019 IHRSA Global Report, which provides an overview of the worldwide health club industry, and the 2019 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. Since IHRSA began tracking health club utilization in 1987, the reports have shown that health clubs are playing an increasing role in helping consumers stay active, lead healthier lives, and pursue fitness and sport goals.

New Program Aims to Grow Pickleball & Tennis

A new program aiming to grow both pickleball and tennis has been announced by Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) and Professional Tennis Registry (PTR). The brainchild of PTR/PPR CEO Dan Santorum, PickTEN gives clubs a resource for attracting new players to their facilities through a fun, social and engaging program.

April 2019

IHRSA Reports on Health Club Compensation

Payroll is one of the largest expenses among health clubs, as hiring and investing in staff plays a critical role in serving and retaining members and clients. This is according to the new “2019 IHRSA Health Club Employee Compensation & Benefits Report” from the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a leading authority on the commercial health club industry. Data from 150 North American facilities was analyzed to calculate the salary and compensation results provided in the report.

Grant Funding Brings Parks Closer to People in 10 Cities

Cities that are participating in the 10-Minute Walk Campaign will receive new grant funding to help increase access to high-quality parks that are within a 10-minute walk. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) together with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) selected 10 cities nationwide to receive grant funding that totals $400,000 as part of the 10-Minute Walk campaign. The goal of the campaign is to address the fact that one in three Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk (or half-mile) of home.

Note & Float Program Reaches Lifesaving Milestone

The Note & Float Life Jacket Fund, a nonprofit that donates life jackets to swimming pools wishing to participate in the Note & Float drowning prevention program, announced that it has now donated more than 1,000 life jackets. Pools that receive life jackets from the program have discovered that their rescues declined by more than 50 percent, and their swim lesson enrollments have consistently doubled.

Fund Established to Assist Aspiring Women Coaches

A fund has been created that will help support the development, education and training of aspiring women football coaches and scouts who are pursuing careers in collegiate or professional football in the United States. The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) together with Atlanta Falcons Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli recently announced the establishment of the Scott Pioli & Family Fund for Women Football Coaches and Scouts.

Applications Open for ESPN RePlay Program

ESPN’s RePlay Program seeks to revitalize vacant public spaces and make them community-oriented places for sports, recreation and play. Many of these vacant spaces—lots, properties, etc.—adversely affect their surrounding communities in many interconnected ways. Notably, as public eyesores, they both lower the property values of the surrounding properties and erode social cohesion and neighborhood pride. Moreover, research shows that that vacant properties increase police drug and violence calls, which is not healthy for any neighborhood or community. But while vacant public spaces pose a problem for several communities across America, there is a great potential develop these areas and bring vitality back to their communities.

March 2019

NRPA Offers Play Space Grants

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is now accepting applications for its 2019 "Meet Me at the Park" play space grants. Part of a $1 million donation by the Walt Disney Company, this grant funding supports projects that increase access to play spaces in local parks for children and families. Applications will be accepted through April 12.

Smarter Lifeguard Management

As the use of technology has become more prevalent in aquatics industry, Counsilman-Hunsaker has developed a series of HydroApps, meant to assist in the regular operations of an aquatics facility. These web-based applications provide facilities with aquatic knowledge and innovation, and the tools to streamline documentation, record-keeping and compliance. The most recent app aims to improve lifeguard management.

U.S. Soccer Foundation Aims to Boost Female Participation

The U.S. Soccer Foundation announced a new funding opportunity for organizations working to address the lack of representation of young women in soccer in underserved communities. The foundation will provide grants to programs that expand opportunities for girls in historically excluded communities and that use impactful strategies to increase female participation in the sport.

In Oregon, Outdoor Recreation Saves $1.4 Billion in Healthcare Costs

Many studies telling have confirmed how beneficial exercise and spending time outdoors can be for our physical and mental health. And more often we’re seeing those benefits broken down into dollars and cents as well. Recently, a report released by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) revealed that the state saves $1.4 billion annually in healthcare costs due to Oregonians’ participation in outdoor recreation activities.

February 2019

Survey: Communities Should Support Pollinators

Americans are in agreement that there should be designated areas for plants to support the health and growth of pollinators, such as honey bees and butterflies. Results of a recent survey conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association showed that only about 34 percent of Americans are confident that they know what to do to help the conservation of pollinators.

NSPF, APSP Unite to Form Pool & Hot Tub Alliance

Recently the National Swimming Pool Foundation and Association of Pool & Spa Professionals announced that they will come together to form the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. The boards of directors of both organizations approved the unification in January, and work is now being done to establish structure, operations and governance, with the goal of officially beginning operations on April 1. With the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance as the umbrella, the new organization looks to lead advocacy, promotions and alliances within the industry.

Guide Aims to Help Gyms Implement Diabetes Prevention

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) recently released the “How Your Club Can Leverage New Diabetes Prevention Program” briefing paper to help fitness centers understand and implement the CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). Diabetes continues to be a growing problem in the United States and it ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States for 2015.

Senior Living Continues Shift Toward Wellness

Mounting evidence over the past few years reveals that senior living communities have been trending toward wellness-oriented lifestyles for their residents, and the findings of a new survey seem to erase any remaining doubt, showing that the tipping point toward wellness has been reached.

January 2019

Partnership Aims to Expand Play Opportunities

Recently, KaBOOM! and the CarMax Foundation announced a partnership renewal with the goal of bringing innovative play opportunities to another 170,000 kids by the end of 2021. The CarMax Foundation is pledging an additional investment of $4.4 million to assist KaBOOM! in transforming the future of play for those kids who need it most. A new program will invest in innovation, including the research and development of new play experiences.

Grant Funds Help Educate Pool Operators

Using funds from a Pool Safely grant, Bridgeport, Conn., is offering free Certified Pool Operator (CPO) courses for local pool operators. As part of a broader pool safety initiative by the city of Bridgeport, the pool certifications will boost the expertise of local professionals in a state that has no certification requirement for pool operators currently.

NFL Foundation Grants Boost Local Football Fields

Athletic fields can be great assets to neighborhoods, offering opportunities for recreation, exercise and education, as well as opportunities for communities to come together. And now, the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program seeks to provide nonprofit, neighborhood-based organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of local football fields.

Leaders Recognized for Advancing Outdoor Recreation

Every year, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) bestows “Oak Awards” on bipartisan decision-makers and OAK members for significant contributions in advancing opportunities for children, youth and families to learn, get active and serve in the outdoors. This year OAK added the Acorn Award, which recognizes exemplary youth leadership. This award is meant to deepen the connection between young people with parks and public lands.