Public policy – 1997 NRPA Annual Report – Brief Article

NRPA’s public policy division continues to serve members by informing national lawmakers, officials, and the public about the benefits of parks and recreation — and advocating national policies and investments that extend those benefits to all people. Outreach occurs through Dateline, a monthly newsletter distributed by Parks & Recreation magazine, the Recre-Action grassroots network, and state affiliates.

The Association’s public policy agenda has been advanced this year by increasing awareness among members of Congress, state and local officials, and citizens of the need for adequate public investment in parks, recreation opportunities, and conservation at all levels of government. During the 1996 elections, for example, citizens approved some $4 billion in state and local bond assessments for capital improvements to achieve clean air and water, land conservation, and recreation access.

Increased public interest in recreation opportunities and conservation led to the creation of a nationwide coalition to enhance investment from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The Americans for our Heritage and Recreation (AHR), a broad-based coalition of conservation and recreation organizations, as well as manufacturers of sporting goods and recreation equipment, was created with strong participation by NRPA to help advance this goal.

AHR and others helped convince the Clinton Administration and Congress to include a $700 million “reserve” from the LWCF in the five-year balanced budget agreement. Although the House of Representatives declined to appropriate any of these funds, the Senate included the entire amount in its spending package. NRPA members were successful in convincing the Senate to allocate $100 million of the reserve for state assistance.

The Association continued to actively support public investment in trails and other “quality-of-life” resources as part of the nation’s recreation and transportation infrastructure Several programs created by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 are awaiting congressional reauthorization.

NRPA also continued its support for a recreation-as-prevention theme, urging access for public recreation agencies to Justice Department funds for programs that provide alternatives to gangs, drugs, and violence for our nation’s youth. Reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has been a major initiative. The Association also maintained its active role with the Crime Prevention Coalition of America, a consortium of more than 100 public and private entities dedicated to creating crime-free environments for all people.

Fitness and Wellness

NRPA continued to expand its leadership role in promoting healthy lifestyles. The agenda of “Active Living/Healthy Lifestyles[TM]” has been to help park and recreation professionals focus on the health-promotion opportunities that showcase the value of their facilities, sites, and programs, and to provide member agencies with consumer-designed resources that encourage the public to adopt healthier lifestyle behaviors. This overarching agenda meets the objectives set forth in Strategy Five of NRPA’s Vision 2000. The comprehensive scope of this initiative would not have been possible without the resources of the National Recreation Foundation and the partnership support of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

NRPA and NHLBI collaborated on two projects in 1997. A Public Service Announcement intended to bring positive messages about physical activity and park resources to youth ages 8-14 was developed and distributed nationally to 400 metro-area television networks. The Association and NHLBI also funded an innovative project to provide children educational information about physical activity, nutrition, and healthy-heart habits. Take-home materials were designed to promote parks and recreation resources as excellent opportunities for families to become more active together. JumpStart was mailed to 30,000 teachers in 500 communities.

The Association formalized a partnership with the Rails to Trails Conservancy and received funding from the National Recreation Foundation to produce a consumer publication, Pathways to Health, which focused on the physical activity health benefits of park spaces.

NRPA also signed an agreement with the National Football League to serve as a promotional partner for its co-ed youth Flag Football League program. This junction resulted from a successful pilot project in five NFL markets.

COPYRIGHT 1997 National Recreation and Park Association

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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