December 2021

Schoolyard Playground Program Earns ASLA Olmsted Medal

Instituted in 1990 to recognize individuals, organizations, agencies and programs outside the profession of landscape architecture for environmental leadership, vision and stewardship, the American Society of Landscape Architects' Olmsted Medal was recently awarded to the Trust for Public Land's New York City Playgrounds Program. Program Director Mary Alice Lee received the Olmsted Medal on behalf of The Trust for Public Land, the second time that the organization's work has been recognized with the prestigious award.

Report Shows Park & Rec Out-of-School Time Programming Is Vital

A new report from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) shows that out-of-school time (OST) programs led by park and recreation professionals have a tremendous impact on children of all ages in communities across the United States. The report shows that more than four and five park and recreation agencies offer OST programs—including before-school, after-school and summer programs—which provide millions of youth with mentoring, physical activity opportunities, educational support and social connections with peers.

Rails-to-Trails Grant Invest in Equitable Trail Access

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently awarded $308,500 in grant funding to 45 projects across 16 states, with a goal of investing in community-led efforts to create more opportunities for people to connect with trails in their neighborhoods—either through activities and events or through improved, connected trail infrastructure.

November 2021

Aquatic Groups to Co-Locate Conferences to Expand Reach

The Association of Aquatic Professionals (AOAP) and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) announced the co-location of their flagship conferences in 2023 and 2024. The events will take place side-by-side at the same location beginning in February 2023 at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.

New SFIA Report Tracks Changes in Fitness Industry

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has released its 2021 Tracking the Fitness Movement Report, which features an in-depth analysis of trends, participation habits and purchasing behaviors in the fitness industry. The pandemic impact reverberated throughout the sports and recreation world, but nowhere was the simultaneous positive and negative impact felt more dramatically than in the fitness business.

ACA, White House Recognize New Hampshire Program That Benefits Camps & Families

In a move recognized by the American Camp Association (ACA) and the White House that will help more kids experience the mental health benefits of camp, the New Hampshire Department of Education and the New NH Community Behavioral Health Association have successfully implemented two vital programs to support families and summer camps in New Hampshire through their Every Kid Goes to Camp program, which is funded by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund.

New NRPA Guide Aims to Facilitate Conversations Around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) released its new Equity Language Guide—a glossary of terms to help park and recreation professionals develop a common language around diversity, equity and inclusion.

October 2021

Grants Available for Youth & Adult Swim Lesson Providers

The 2022 USA Swimming Foundation Learn-to-Swim Grant applications for lesson providers are now open. Grants are available for those providing youth swim lessons, and for the first time in 2022, grants will be available for those focused on adult learn-to-swim programs as well.. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 15, 2021.

NAYS Partnership Will Provide Sporting Goods Where Needed

The National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) has teamed up with Leveling the Playing Field (LPF) to provide free donated sporting goods to schools, recreation centers and other youth-serving organizations working in under-resourced communities.

RWJF Recognizes Community-Based Sports Organizations

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced the winners of its Sports Award, which honors the innovative and collaborative efforts of individuals, organizations and teams that are making their communities healthier through sport. This year’s winners include The Dance Institute of Washington, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Make The World Better, Move United, and YEAH! Yoga. The winners will receive a $25,000 cash prize.

Soccer Mini Pitch Honoring Former MLS Player Ray Gaddis Unveiled in Indianapolis

As part of a national partnership between Black Players for Change (BPC), Black Women's Player Collective (BWPC), the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting and adidas, the latest mini-pitch honoring members of the BPC and BWPC was recently unveiled at Oscar Charleston Park in Indianapolis. The mini-pitch honors BPC member and former MLS player Ray Gaddis, who grew up in Indianapolis and attended North Central High School.

September 2021

CDC Reports Major Increase in Obesity Over Past Decade

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recently reported that 16 states now have obesity rates of at least 35%. This staggering and discouraging figure went up from only 12% in 2019, and is a huge increase over the last decade—zero states reported rates at the 35% level back in 2012.

Despite Pandemic, Sports & Fitness Participation Grew, Says SFIA

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unique challenges to the sports and fitness world. Even in the worst of recessions, the industry has never experienced anything like the unprecedented, immediate global shutdown of retail, operations, workplaces, travel, and sports and fitness facilities. Following the initial shock, the industry pivoted, and in turn, persevered, adapting to focus on ecommerce and responding to the demand for new products.

Partnerships Between Parks & Schools Provide More Equitable Access

A recent survey from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) showed strong support for partnerships between local schools and parks and recreation agencies to ensure equitable access to open spaces and facilities. Recent research from the Trust for Public Land shows where such partnerships might be most beneficial.

$500,000 in Grants Awarded for Water-Inspired Play Spaces

In partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the American Water Charitable Foundation announced the recipients of its 2021 Building Better Communities grant program. The City of Imperial Beach, Calif., and the City of Lexington, Ky., were awarded the grants, which total $500,000, to create equitable community-focused, water-inspired play areas that feature modern, state-of-the-art splash pads to teach children and families the importance of water stewardship and conservation.

August 2021

Leading Organizations Endorse Children's Bill of Rights in Sports

Several dozen of the most influential organizations in the sport and nonprofit sectors have officially endorsed the Children's Bill of Rights in Sports, drafted by the Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program to create a shared cultural understanding about the right of all youth to play and to develop through sports.

Screentime Up, Mental & Physical Fitness Down, Says New Study

A new research study from TeamSnap in collaboration with The Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program, Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University and Louisiana Tech University's Minds in Motion Lab, demonstrated significant findings about the connection between youth sports and health, with nine in 10 parents (89%) citing mental health as a top reason their children participate in youth sports, and more than half (52%) reporting that their children's mental health and physical fitness decreased during the pandemic.

The Great American Outdoors Act, One Year Later

August. 4, 2021, was the one-year anniversary of the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act being signed into law. The act authorized $900 million in annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and is designed to address the nearly $20 billion deferred maintenance backlog on federal public lands.

IHRSA Foundation Digs Into the New Fitness Consumer Mindset

New consumer research commissioned by the IHRSA Foundation and ABC Fitness Solutions shows motivation to stay fit in a post-pandemic world is less about having a solid physique and more about achieving a holistic approach to physical exercise and mental well-being. A study conducted by ClubIntel in June 2021 shows that the active consumer motivation for a total fitness experience demands highly personalized delivery—the fitness industry can no longer provide a one-size-fits-all approach and expect to succeed.

NRPA Announces Grant Funding to Support Equitable Access to Parks

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) awarded grant funding totaling more than $2.5 million to support the advancement of community-driven, systems-level strategies for equitable park access that improve the environmental resilience and health of communities. The grant funding will also provide ongoing peer learning and coaching, professional development, and access to networks of like-minded park and recreation professionals across the country.

July 2021

Arlington, Va., Named 'Fittest City'

Arlington, Va., has been named "America's Fittest City" in the annual American Fitness Index rankings published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation. The ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index evaluated America's 100 largest cities using 34 evidence-based indicators. Rounding out the top 10 fittest cities are Minneapolis; Seattle; Denver; Madison, Wis.; Washington, D.C.; St. Paul, Minn.; Irvine, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Atlanta, Ga., which cracked the top 10 for the first time.

ACE Launches Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Course for Exercise Pros

The American Council on Exercise recently announced a first-of-its-kind course on how exercise professionals and health coaches can help build a more inclusive fitness industry. The course, “Taking Action With ACE: Practicing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as an Exercise Professional,” is the first step on a journey to ensure all physical activity participants have equal access and feel welcome in every environment.

NRPA Survey Finds Strong Support for Park & Rec Infrastructure Investments

Parks, community centers, rec centers and more are an essential part of any community’s improved infrastructure plan, says a newly released poll from the National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA). Nearly all (92%) of U.S. adults said they want their local government to invest in this kind of community infrastructure.

2021 Report Shows Record Outdoor Participation

The Outdoor Foundation recently released exclusive insights about Americans’ engagement in outdoor activities in 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As detailed throughout the report, COVID-19 inspired huge participation growth, as outdoor spaces became places of refuge to safely socialize, improve physical and mental health, connect with family and recover from screen fatigue.

June 2021

YMCA Examines Generational, Racial Inequities in Water Safety Education

YMCA of the USA released new data that highlights the personal experiences and barriers parents face when it comes to swimming and water safety. The data, collected from a diverse set of U.S. parents, including black, LatinX/Hispanic and other population segments, shows that nine in 10 parents see swimming as a key life skill for children—on par with first aid skills and the ability to prepare a meal. A deeper dive uncovers the impact of unique generational and racial inequities when it comes to ensuring all parents and children are safe and confidence around water, whether it’s at the pool or waterpark, or on the beach.

Child Drownings Remain High

After a year when many children missed crucial learn-to-swim programming, child drowning remains high, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. CPSC’s latest data show an increase in pool- or spa-related fatal drowning incidents among children younger than 15, and drowning remains the leading cause of unintentional death among children from 1 to 4 years old.

CPSC Announces $2 Million in Grants Available to Help Prevent Drowning, Entrapment

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is seeking applications for the Pool Safely Grant Programs, available to state and local governments. CPSC will award up to a total of $2 million in two-year grants to assist jurisdictions in reducing deaths and injuries from drowning and drain entrapment in pools and spas. The Pool Safely Grant Program is a part of CPSC’s national campaign to make drowning and drain entrapment prevention a critical public safety priority.

10th Annual ParkScore Index Names Washington, D.C., Best City Park System

The Trust for Public Land announced that Washington, D.C., was rated the nation’s best park system on the annual ParkScore Index. The city edged ahead of St. Paul, Minn., followed closely by third-place Minneapolis, which held the top spot in 2020, and fourth place Arlington, Va. Washington’s position was boosted by high marks for park equity.

ACE, WIFA Launch Opportunity to Support Women in Fitness

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Women In Fitness Association (WIFA) have reached a milestone in their partnership with the launch of the WIFA Growth Grant, a scholarship that provides current ACE Certified Professionals an opportunity to build and grow their careers with a one-year WIFA membership.

May 2021

$150 Million in Grants Will Create Parks, Expand Recreation Opportunities

The Department of the Interior announced that the National Park Service will distribute $150 million to local communities through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) grant program. The program, established in 2014, enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors in economically underserved communities.

CPSC Awards More Than $860,000 in Pool Safely Grants

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced five awardees of a grant program aimed at preventing pool and spa drownings and drain entrapments. The state and local governments, selected by CPSC, will receive more than $860,000 in Pool Safely Grant program funds. This funding will provide financial assistance for education, training and enforcement of pool safety requirements that are intended to save lives and prevent serious injuries.

Leading Aquatic Organizations Champion Water Safety

A coalition of water safety partners, including the American Red Cross, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and the World Waterpark Association, along with dozens of other water safety groups, are working together to promote the month of May as National Water Safety Month. National Water Safety Month engages the public to raise awareness about water safety and highlights the importance of public education regarding safer practices for kids and adults when they're in and around water.

Keep America Beautiful Releases Study on Litter in America

Keep America Beautiful released data from its 2020 study on litter in America. The Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Litter Study provides a comprehensive understanding of the quantity, composition and sources of litter along roadways, waterways and in non-roadway areas across the United States.

April 2021

Outdoor Industry Association Paints Picture of the New Outdoor Participant

The Outdoor Industry Association recently released insights about Americans' engagement in outdoor activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The special report examines demographics and psychographics of the new outdoor participant—defined as someone who participated in an outdoor activity for the first time during the pandemic or after a significant lapse.

NRPA Introduces New Resource Aimed at Eliminating Health Inequities

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has released a new resource: Elevating Health Equity Through Parks and Recreation: A Framework for Action. Developed in collaboration with Epic Health Solutions, the interactive framework guides local park and recreation professionals through the process of applying an equity lens to system-wide operations, programs and services.

ULI Report: Pandemic Led to Innovation in the Public Realm

The Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Initiative released a report detailing how cities around the world have adapted their public spaces, addressing new challenges and meeting new needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nation's Pediatricians Provide New Guidance on Summer Camp Safety

Summer is on its way, and in 2021, summer camp and day camp programs can provide a welcome opportunity for kids to engage in outdoor sports, play and connect with friends, and take part in creative activities that have been on hold for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To guide parents, camp directors and pediatricians in creating safe camp environments, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued newly updated interim guidance to help protect the health of camp attendees, staff and the community at large.

March 2021

Grants Invest in Community Trail Projects

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) announced the recipients of its 2021 Trail Grants Program, awarding $145,000 to fill critical trail gaps, with an emphasis on regional and community development goals. The awards included $60,000 in Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund grants, used this year to advance projects that bring forward the vision for the cross-country Great American Rail-Trail, a developing 3,700-mile trails that connects across 12 states, from Washington, D.C., to Washington State.

Research Supports Safe Camp Operations During Pandemic

A new study from the American Camp Association of 486 camps that served 90,000 campers found that only 30 campers had confirmed COVID-19 cases in 2020, a direct result of the summer camp industry’s focus on developing leading-edge child safety standards from the earliest days of the pandemic.

USA Swimming Distributes Community Impact Grants

USA Swimming and the USA Swimming Foundation recently introduced a new grant program that aims to increase competitive opportunities within USA Swimming clubs. An inaugural class of 12 recipients will each receive $5,000 Community Impact grants, which are renewable annually for up to three years.

Research Uncovers What Consumers Need to Return to Gyms

UpSwell Marketing recently shared insights from its fitness consumer research, delving into consumer behavior in the fitness industry. Based on the responses of 1,000 U.S. consumers, the survey uncovers factors considered when deciding which gyms to join and when to go back during these unprecedented finds.

Study Details Hard-Hitting Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Attractions Industry

A study released by IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, details the massive scope of COVID-19's impact on the U.S. attractions industry workforce-with an employment loss five times larger than the average loss across all other industries. In addition, the association is calling on U.S. elected officials to allow for safe reopening of the industry and passing of additional COVID-related relief legislation to support the industry.

February 2021

Outdoor Participation Up Significantly, Says Topline Data From Outdoor Foundation

The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association, released topline data frm its forthcoming Outdoor Participation Report, supporting what has been reported anecdotally for the past year: Americans found respite and solace from pandemic restrictions by increasing their time outdoors, participating in activities such as trail running, hiking, camping, fishing and biking.

USA Swimming Awards Funds to Local Swimming Committees

Now in its second year, USA Swimming’s Athlete Leadership Summit Grant Program has awarded funds to more than 20 local swimming committees (LSCs), totaling $18,000 of allocated funding. LSCs must support the program with a matching amount equal to at least 50% of the money awarded by USA Swimming.

NGWSD Celebrates Girls & Women in Sports

Feb. 3, 2021 was the 35th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), a day of observance recognizing the importance of equal opportunities in sport for girls and women. In honor of the day, the Women’s Sports Foundation hosted virtual events to engage girls across the country, as well as legislators on Capitol Hill. This annual day of celebration and advocacy aims to inspire girls and women to play and be active, to help realize their limitless potential. Now more than ever, with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice movement and political tumult, staying mentally and physically healthy and resilient is vital.

Organizations Lodge Opposition to Last-Minute LWCF Changes

Various organizations have registered their vigorous opposition to last-minute changes by the outgoing Trump Administration to the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s (LWCF) State Assistance Program, including virtually ending the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program. The LWCF Coalition, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the City Parks Alliance all registered their opposition and insisted that these changes be reversed.

January 2021

Parks & Rec Pros Serve Essential Mentorship Role

Nine out of 10 U.S. adults agree that it’s important for kids and young adults to have access to mentors, according to a recent poll released by the National Recreation and Park Association. A majority—71%—said it is extremely or very important.

USA Swimming, U.S. Masters Swimming Partner to Support Learn-to-Swim

The USA Swimming Foundation and U.S. Masters Swimming announced a new philanthropic partnership to grow support for adult learn-to-swim efforts. In January 2021, U.S. Masters Swimming will move its fundraising efforts for adult learn-to-swim programs from its USMS Swimming Saves Lives Foundation to the USA Swimming Foundation.

Online Training Tops 2021 Fitness Trends, Says ACSM

Millions of adults have felt the impact of fitness facility closures due to the pandemic over the past year, and have been forced to find innovative ways to be active. That's why it comes as no shock that more than 4,000 health and fitness professionals surveyed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) named online training as the new top trend in fitness for 2021. Online training moved up 25 spots from its No. 26 ranking in 2020.

New Appropriations Act Boosts City Park Funding

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 27, 2020, is well known for its aim to provide relief for the unemployed, businesses and others affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also includes a boost in funding for city parks. The bill includes $125 million for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP), which represents an increase of $100 million over last year’s funding level. This historic investment in local parks is the largest in the history of the ORLP program.