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OCTOBER 2018 W W W. N R PA . O R G

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contents october 2018


volume 53 | number 10 |


46 Bridging a Divide Through Park Design

Washington, D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park was conceived by a visionary nonprofit, Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR). BBAR’s mission is to improve the quality of life for children and adults who reside east of the Anacostia River by providing leadership, management and financial oversight of Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC). This vision was borne out of necessity for communities that had suffered from decades of disinvestment. Hallie Boyce, RLA

52 Parks at Our Nation’s Borders

Along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada are parks, and, like parks across the rest of the country, they face challenges they must work to overcome, including with staffing, community engagement and funding. In addition to these


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challenges, these border parks must manage adverse activities, such as illegal border crossings and drug trafficking, that impact not only park visitation, access and security, but also the ecology. Paula M. Jacoby-Garrett

58 Gender-Spectrum Inclusion for Recreation Professionals

As recreation professionals, we are always looking for ways to make our parks and programs accessible and welcoming to all members of our diverse communities. So, how can we promote inclusion for participants on the gender spectrum? We can start by creating a welcoming environment for the gender nonconforming demographic through understanding, connecting, educating and policy making. Becky Herz


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contents october

columns 8

departments 12 Research Americans Support Easy Access to Great Parks… Kevin Roth, Ph.D.

14 Park Pulse Access to Affordable Out-of-School Time Programs Is Important

Perspectives ‘Make No Little Plans…’ Jack Kardys

10 Editor’s Letter Diversity Does Not Equal Inclusion Sonia Myrick

30 Advocacy How Many Mayors Does It Take to Make a Movement? Kevin O’Hara

32 Law Review

16 Community Center „„ Exploring Contemporary Therapeutic Recreation Services 16 Shari Roberts and Tim Passmore, Ph.D. „„ Community Engagement in Park Design 20 Katherine Stokke

22 Member to Member „„ Milwaukee Recreation: Weaving Equity into All It Does 22 Brian Foley „„ Communicating Inclusion Through Images 26 Koboi Simpson

64 NRPA Update „„ Call for 2019 Conference Session Proposals 64 „„ You WERE Yeti! 66 „„ Great Urban Parks Campaign Grantees Announced 66 „„ 10-Minute Walk Learning Series 67 „„ Agency Performance Survey Now Open 67 „„ Meet the New NRPA Equity Advisory Panel 68 „„ Congratulations to the 2018 Gold Medal Award Winners 71 „„ Announcing the Newly Accredited and Reaccredited CAPRA Agencies 71 „„ Parks & Recreation Crossword 72 „„ Connect Hot Topics 74 „„ Member Benefit: Save Hours of Administrative Time with ePACT 74 „„ Member Spotlight: Patrick Marron 75 „„ Professional Development Calendar 77

Championship Time Standards Disqualify Disabled Athletes James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

38 Future Leaders Social Equity in Senior Programs Bates McKinney

40 Conservation Cities Address Racial Disparities in Access to Nature Priya Cook

42 Health & Wellness Addressing Health Disparities in Rural America Allison Colman

78 Operations Grounds Care Machines and Their Maintenance Bill Frank

80 Products 81 Park Essentials 87 Advertiser Index 88 Park Bench Helping Hands Suzanne Nathan Cover image: 6

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Page 42

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‘Make No Little Plans…’ I’m a Parks Kid! I grew up at Florida’s Haulover Beach Park, boating, fishing, diving, and I played just about every sport on every ballfield in Miami-Dade County. These experiences defined me and are where my memories and character developed. All it took was a parks internship to hook me, for life, in this profession. So, after 38 years in the business, here’s some of what I’ve learned: As park professionals, we are far more sophisticated than bats, balls and babysitting for afterschool programs. We plan, build, operate, program and maintain our nation’s community and regional park systems! We are the creators and keepers of the experience that happens when people are in public spaces. Parks represent fairness, access, inclusion and social equity — no matter race, color, creed, age, ability or disability — and that is an enormously noble venture. They are not only destinations; they’re also a metaphor for healthy, happy and prosperous communities. They are great public/civic spaces, natural and cultural areas, greenways, blueways, trails and complete streets that connect it all together. Nationwide, operations and capital spending for local parks alone generates more than $154 billion in annual economic activity and supports more than 1.1 million jobs. More than 85 studies link parks to better physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being that significantly increase our life expectancy. Yet, no other government function has been as undervalued and underfunded as parks and recreation! The Penn State Study shows the steady decline in park funding over the past 10 years; in some cases, more than 20 percent less than our police and fire rescue


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counterparts. We know that for every kid police and fire rescues, we save 99 through prevention programs, coaching and mentoring. So, where is our recognition? As Florida Recreation and Park Association’s past chair Joan Byrne says, we need to stop needing to be liked and start demanding the respect we deserve for the impact we make! To that end, and in addition to continuing to represent member interests through innovation, education and support, NRPA should further leverage three strategies: Collaborating, partnering and further developing a nationwide park movement that builds on the 10-Minute Walk Campaign underway with TPL and ULI, and focusing on creating resilient park districts with secure, dedicated funding streams. And we can do this by building coalitions and developing campaign tactics and marketing messages that elevate the aspirations of every citizen to increase park advocacy. We should own the voices of our pillars, taking deeper dives into research and equipping each of you with the data you need, especially in the areas of resiliency, urban revitalization and economic impact. We will build our philanthropic capacity to provide you with the resources needed to sustain this nationwide parks movement. NRPA is a force multiplier. No one has more boots on the ground or more impact than you, our members, and it is NRPA’s job to equip you in this movement. So, in the words of Chicago’s Daniel Burnham, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work….” NRPA will keep us all thinking big and equipping us to deliver great results!

JACK K ARDYS NRPA’s Chair of the Board of Directors

2 2377 Belmont Ridge Rd. | Ashburn, VA 20148 703.858.0784 |

NRPA’S MISSION: To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chair of the Board of Directors Jack Kardys J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Past Chair Leon T. Andrews, Jr.

National League of Cities Washington, D.C.

Treasurer Jesús Aguirre

Tower Steel Services, Inc. Seattle, Washington

Secretary Karen Bates Kress Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

President and CEO Barbara Tulipane, CAE

National Recreation and Park Association Ashburn, Virginia


Formerly of Portland Parks & Recreation Portland, Oregon

Jesús Aguirre

Tower Steel Services, Inc. Seattle, Washington

Leon T. Andrews, Jr.

National League of Cities Washington, D.C.

Neelay Bhatt

PROS Consulting Indianapolis, Indiana

Hayden Brooks

American Realty Corporation Austin, Texas

Kong Chang

City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Saint Paul, Minnesota

Carol Coletta

Memphis River Parks Partnership Memphis, Tennessee

Kevin Coyle

National Wildlife Federation Washington, D.C.

Jose Felix Diaz Ballard Partners Miami, Florida

Victor Dover

Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning Miami, Florida

Richard Gulley

City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department San Diego, California

Roslyn Johnson

Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Greenbelt, Maryland

Jack Kardys

J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Michael Kelly

Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois

Karen Bates Kress Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

Joanna Lombard

University of Miami School of Architecture; Miller School of Medicine Department of Public Health Sciences Miami, Florida

Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge East Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Josh Medeiros

Town of Cheshire Parks and Recreation Cheshire, Connecticut

Herman Parker

City of San Diego, California, Parks and Recreation Department San Diego, California

Ian Proud

Playworld Systems Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Nonet T. Sykes

Atlanta Beltline, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia

Xavier D. Urrutia

City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation San Antonio, Texas

Greg Weitzel

City of Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Idaho Falls, Idaho

LIFE TRUSTEES Beverly D. Chrisman

Lexington, South Carolina

Anne S. Close

Fort Mill, South Carolina

James H. Evans

New York, New York

Rosemary Hall Evans

Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Earl T. Groves

Gastonia, North Carolina

Charles E. Hartsoe, Ph.D. Richmond, Virginia

Harry G. Haskell, Jr.

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Diversity Does Not Equal Inclusion Recently, a French private art college made the news because of a retouched image in its marketing material. Apparently, the school’s American PR firm believed that for the school’s newest location in Los Angeles to appeal to an American audience, its student body needed to appear diverse, so the image was altered to include more easily identifiable black students. Diversity, which has become an overused and sometimes politically charged term, doesn’t necessarily equate to inclusion, however. As the author of a Forbes magazine article I recently read explains it: “Diversity as a platform doesn’t empower different individuals, give them influence, make them feel valued, and strive to find like-mindedness in our differences — inclusion does.” “Inclusion” was the word I kept coming back to as we worked on the content for this, our Social Equity Pillar issue. In the cover story, “Bridging a Divide Through Park Design,” on page 46, contributor Hallie Boyce, RLA, lays out the steps being taken to include a disinvested section of our nation’s capital in the economic boom and revitalization the rest of the city has been undergoing, without causing large-scale displacement of the current residents. As the debate about our immigration system rages, what’s often overlooked is the impact to the actual people and places on the frontlines of this issue. In “Parks at Our Nation’s Borders,” on page 52, contributor Paula M. Jacoby-Garrett describes some of the challenges faced by parks that straddle our country’s northern and southern borders and shows how, even in these places where barriers may physically separate, families find a way to be included in each other’s lives. Making park and recreation facilities and programs accessible and welcoming to diverse communities is what park professionals strive for every day. In “Gender-Spectrum Inclusion for Recreation Professionals,” on page 58, contributor Becky Herz shares her personal experience to show how you can work to create a welcoming environment for patrons of your agencies, no matter where they fall on the gender spectrum. Equity, equality, diversity: these terms have become commonplace. What it really boils down to is that all of us, regardless of age, sex, class, race, ability, have something to contribute and want to know that we, as well as our contributions, are valued. As the various stories in this month’s issue show, park and recreation professionals are already tackling this issue of inclusion and making progress. It’s definitely a journey…one that NRPA, through our Parks for Inclusion initiative, is excited to be on with you.

SONIA MYRICK Executive Editor


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VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLISHING, AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Gina Mullins-Cohen EXECUTIVE EDITOR Sonia Myrick EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR Suzanne Nathan PUBLICATION DESIGN Creative By Design SENIOR SALES MANAGER EASTERN REGION AND EUROPE Kip Ongstad 703.858.2174 SALES MANAGER WESTERN REGION AND ASIA Michelle Dellner 949.248.1057 SALES COORDINATOR Meghan Fredriksen 703.858.2190 PHOTOGRAPHY (unless otherwise noted) MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Brendan Daley Anthony-Paul Diaz Ryan Eaker Robert García Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert Tim Herd Brian Johnson Sam Mendelsohn Maria Nardi Lisa Paradis Gil Peñalosa Paula Sliefert Anne-Marie Spencer Stephen Springs

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RESEARCH Americans Support Easy Access to Great Parks…


And are willing to pay for it By Kevin Roth, Ph.D.


veryone living in the United States should have easy access to great park and recreation opportunities. Easy access includes having a park, open space, recreation center or other recreation facility nearby to and from which they can travel safely. Our most vibrant and dynamic communities are those where residents can easily access well-maintained park and recreation amenities in just a few minutes without having to cross heavily traveled roads or navigate some other pedestrian hazard.

This year’s Americans’ Engagement with Parks Report explores the importance of having high-quality park and recreation amenities located nearby to all people, regardless of where they live. This survey is NRPA’s annual study that measures the general public’s strong passion for public parks. We first presented the findings from the 2018 study at this year’s NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis ( The good news is that the 2018

survey results show that most Americans do live near a park or other recreational opportunity. Three in 4 Americans indicate that there is at least one local park, playground, open space or recreation center within a 10-minute walking distance of their homes. However, the percentage of survey respondents living near a park or other recreational opportunity can vary significantly. For example, Americans are more likely to report a nearby park if they identify as Hispanic (84

percent) or non-white (83 percent). Furthermore, millennials (82 percent) and Gen Xers (79 percent) are significantly more likely to report having a park and/or recreation facility that is within walking distance than are baby boomers (65 percent). Unfortunately, not everyone lives near a public park. Moreover, even for those who do, nearby parks are not always well-maintained or meet the specific needs and desires of the surrounding communities. Closing this gap is one of the reasons

Americans Support Increased Local Government Funding for Their Local Park and Recreation Agency (Percent of Respondents)

100% 80%





81% 67%

60% 40% 20% 0%


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Lives near a park

Does not live near a park

the National Recreation and Park Association, The Trust for Public Land and the Urban Land Institute launched the 10-Minute Walk Campaign ( The goal of this program is to ensure every person in every community across the United States lives within a 10-minute walking distance of a great park. Through a collective national voice, mayoral endorsements and local community action, the 10-Minute Walk Campaign aims to increase park quality, park funding and park access within a 10-minute walk of everyone’s home. Americans strongly support the goals of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign and want their local communities to participate in the program. Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents indicate they would support their communities’ participation in the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, with nearly 7 out of 10 strongly supporting the initiative. Indeed, backing for the campaign is solid across nearly every segment of the U.S. population — including those across the political spectrum — with particularly robust support from: • Millennials • Gen Xers • Parents of children under the age of 18 And, Americans are willing to put their money where their mouth is. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents are in favor of local governments increasing financial support for public park and recreation services, particularly if it helps ensure all residents in their community can easily access a great park. Seventy-eight percent indicate they want their local governments to increase park

and recreation spending from the current median monthly spending level of just under $7.00 per resident. Among that share, 31 percent would “definitely” support increased spending while another 46 percent would “probably” support it. The typical hike suggested by survey respondents would put median spending levels at $8.00 per resident each month, or a 22 percent increase from current typical spending levels. Large majorities of Americans across all demographic segments support greater funding for local parks and recreation: • Generation: Millennials (83 percent), Gen Xers (82 percent) and baby boomers (71 percent) Household formation: Parents (85 percent) and non-parents (75 percent) • Political affiliation: Democrats (85 percent) and Republicans (73 percent) • Where they live: Near a park (81 percent) and not near a park (67 percent) • Household income: Respondents with income less than $35,000 per year (68 percent) and those earning more than $75,000 (82 percent) Local political leaders, who make parks and recreation a cornerstone of their agendas, are likely to be rewarded at the ballot box. Seventy-six percent of Americans are more likely to vote for a local politician — a mayor, county executive or a member of the local council — if that politician makes park and recreation funding a priority. More so, a huge 92 percent of survey respondents who support the 10-Minute Walk Campaign are also more likely to vote for a local

politician who makes park and recreation funding a key priority. It is noteworthy that Americans’ desire that local politicians support park and recreation funding is solid across nearly every segment of the population: • Generation: Millennials (73 percent), Gen Xers (76 percent) and baby boomers (76 percent) • Household formation: Parents (80 percent) and non-parents (73 percent) • Political affiliation: Democrats (81 percent) and Republicans (76 percent) • Where they live: Near a park (78 percent) and not near a park (69 percent) • Household income: Respondents with income less than $35,000 per year (76 percent) and those earning more than $75,000 (79 percent) The 2018 Americans’ Engagement with Parks Report results demonstrate that the mission of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign enjoys solid support among members of the public, who are willing to support increased taxes to ensure all people have easy access to a great park. These findings are consistent with the broader themes of the survey, which find Americans of all stripes agree parks and recreation is an important local government service. This is further demonstrated by the fact that 85 percent of Americans seek high-quality park and recreation amenities when they are choosing a new place to live. Hence, they want what is available to them to be available to all Americans. What a compelling message to share with our political leaders. Kevin Roth Ph.D., is NRPA’s Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology (

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NRPA Park Pulse

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement –

Increasing the availability of affordable out-of-school time programs at local parks, recreation centers and libraries to families of all income levels should be a goal of my local government?

HOUSEHOLDS WITH AND WITHOUT CHILDREN AGREE, local governments should focus on increasing affordable out-of-school time programming.





All ages agree, affordable out-of-school time program availability should be a local government priority. 97%




93% 89%


of Americans look to local governments to increase availability of affordable out-of-school time programming at their park and recreation agencies. The National Recreation and Park Association Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,003 nationally representative U.S. adults, ages 18+, between August 16th and August 23rd, 2018, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older. 14

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COMMUNITY CENTER Exploring Contemporary Therapeutic Recreation Services Challenges, successes and where to go from here By Shari Roberts and Tim Passmore, Ph.D.

In our society, “recreation” implies an activity you do in your free time. Its association with recreational therapy often causes confusion about what recreational therapists do. In healthcare and community settings, they use recreation-based,

leisure-based and activity-based interventions, among others, to change and improve an individual’s abilities and quality of life.

Why Does This Matter? People are living longer, which has

The Center for Individuals With Physical Challenges in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


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caused a shift in the demand on healthcare. As the population ages, individuals look for cost-effective ways to maintain their mental, physical and social abilities. While there is an increased demand for the service recreational therapists offer, the number of facilities prepared to offer this type of therapy is limited, often due to budgetary constraints and a lack of understanding about the benefits to individuals within the community. This shift in healthcare demand



ccording to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that uses recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs and goals of individuals dealing with illnesses and/or disabling conditions. It is a means to achieve psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being.

combined with the fact that inpatient stays are getting shorter, highlights the need for community-based discharge sites where patients can continue their recovery and successfully reintegrate into the community. When individuals have a strong community-based setting to use after their discharge from the inpatient setting, the rate of rehospitalization dramatically decreases and their overall health, recovery and quality of life improves. Their ability to actively contribute or give back to the community also improves. These developments demonstrate why it is important for community members — including those who could benefit from

recreational therapy — to advocate for access through parks and recreation and nonprofit organizations, such as the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges in Tulsa, Oklahoma (www. and a new facility being planned by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) in Washington, D.C. NRPA has implemented Parks for Inclusion, an inclusion initiative to ensure all people have equal access to great parks. Seventy-four percent of park and recreation agencies in the United States have developed programs that serve community members who have a physical disability, while 62 percent do the same to serve individu-


Seventy-four percent of park and recreation agencies in the United States have developed programs that serve community members who have a physical disability... als with a cognitive disability. Programs with a focus on inclusion have made it possible for individuals with disabilities to participate in community-based activities; yet, not all programs currently can offer specific adaptive sports or other inclusive opportunities. Although parks and public spaces must meet ADA requirements, they struggle to deliver quality fa-

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possible through grants, fee-for-service contracts and individual and corporate contributions.

What Can We Do Next?

Although parks and public spaces must meet ADA requirements, they struggle to deliver quality facility and program offerings to the 21+ million Americans with disabilities. cility and program offerings to the 21+ million Americans with disabilities. Within Washington, D.C., for example, there is a DPR center within 2 miles of all D.C. residents, but only one of these centers specializes in therapeutic recreation. Ella Faulkner, chief operating officer of DPR, is helping to plan the District of Colombia’s new therapeutic recreation center. Regarding next steps, she states: “The vision for the new TR Center is a premier, all-inclusive facility, incorporating a comprehensive approach to health and wellness programs and amenities that can accommodate Washington, D.C.’s large population of individuals with spe18

Parks & Recreation

cial needs, while still catering to non-disabled users and the immediate community.” DPR’s endeavor is formidable, but also incredibly important. Park and recreation agencies, as well as concerned residents, can help form similar visions and solutions in their communities. Those solutions may include partnerships with nonprofit organizations focused on providing sports and recreation activities; service organizations, such as hospitals and universities that work directly with park and recreation centers; and donors and sponsors that provide monetary contributions and marketing opportunities. To understand how this might look, consider the several centers nationwide that successfully provide therapeutic recreation services to individuals by leveraging partnerships with governmental and private entities. The Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit Ability360 Sport & Fitness Center is an example of a U.S. Paralympic facility, offering programs to empower people with disabilities. These programs are made

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Begin by engaging with community members and establishing a community outreach plan that showcases awareness of the community’s desires and allows community members to provide feedback on the type of programming they would like. It is also important to open the lines of communication between local hospitals, universities and other organizations to gauge the types of potential partnership opportunities available. For example, hospitals could use park and recreation facilities for discharge planning for their patients, recreational therapy students could volunteer at community-based organizations, and park and recreation centers could offer inclusive and adaptive opportunities to the citizens of their area. To learn more about recreational therapy and the program offerings that can be made available to communities, start by visiting NRPA’s website ( and the websites of associations such as ATRA ( They share perspectives and trends that are impacting the industry. There is much more that can be done to foster inclusion and adaptation in all park and recreation programming, and it can start with taking this modest step. Shari Roberts is a Project Manager for Brailsford & Dunlavey, Inc. (sroberts@ Tim Passmore, Ph.D., is President-Elect for the American Therapeutic Recreation Association and an Associate Professor for Oklahoma State University (


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Community Engagement in Park Design From Chile to Oregon By Katherine Stokke


arque Araucano lies 60 miles off the South Pacific coast in Santiago, Chile, where I studied abroad in summer 2017. In a nation where a small percentage of the population uses private gyms, free outdoor-fitness amenities became widespread about five years ago in response to the country’s rising level of obesity. In addition to its many other amenities — there’s a skate park with sponsor logos worked into the design as “graffiti” — Parque Araucano’s outdoor fitness equipment is popular. spaces. She emphasizes that, while environmental sustainability is a nice benefit of parks, social equity is the driving factor behind the organization’s efforts. Mi Parque was founded in 2008 by architects Julio Poblete and Martín Andrade in response to Chile’s housing policies that moved people to places with very empty common spaces. To address the disparity in access to green spaces in impoverished areas, Mi Parque pairs social workers with architects in two-per-


In fact, sponsorships, particularly through the decade-long work of the nonprofit Fundación Mi Parque (, are what have enabled Chile to invest in open space beyond Santiago, in underserved communities up and down this long, skinny country. According to Consuelo González, marketing and finance director for Mi Parque, the organization works with disadvantaged neighborhoods to design and build playgrounds and parks that are true community

20 Parks & Recreation

son teams that, during the park design phase, hold interactive workshops to involve the community. The team then builds further ownership through collaborative construction and installation before turning over the responsibility for park maintenance to the local government. Fifty-five miles off the Pacific coast but much farther north (in Beaverton, Oregon), Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD), where I am the interim operations analysis manager, has embraced a similar approach to community engagement in the park planning process. Community conversations now take place much earlier in our planning process to involve the public in more of the decision making. Gery Keck, THPRD’s design and development manager, and Nicole Paulsen, the urban planner, initially worked with a consultant to bring this enhanced process in-house, culminating in multiple successful engagement projects and a newly funded staff position dedicated to advancing social equity. Most recently, an engagement and partnerships specialist position was added to our design and development department. This role will also assist other departments, such as maintenance operations, and nature and trails. For new or redeveloped parks, THPRD holds community conversations during which participants THPRD residents provide input about a neighborhood park during a “sticky wall” planning exercise.

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are asked broad questions about what they value in their neighborhood park and how it can enhance livability in their community. Paulsen believes this helps participants move beyond their individual perspective to view the park as a community asset. Staff then groups the findings around certain themes, such as safety or activities for all ages, and uses them to develop a vision statement for the site. “No matter how diverse the participants,” Paulsen notes, “they tend to gravitate toward similar themes, which highlights how unifying a community space can be.” To encourage attendance and participation in these meetings, THPRD staff first builds partnerships with trusted sources in the community, from nonprofits that can act as a liaison to traditionally underrepresented populations, to local schools. For example, Keck describes how THPRD held a meeting in conjunction with an afterschool program when parents would be picking up their children. To make it even more convenient for the families, THPRD provided food and children’s activities so the parents could stay and participate in the conversation. THPRD also holds community workshops where attendees, with guidance from staff, can use toscale cutouts of park amenities to craft their own design concepts for the site around utilities, permitting and other constraints. Again, THPRD looks for opportunities to reduce barriers to participation, from offering meetings on Saturday mornings instead of busy weeknights, to addressing language access. THPRD has offered Spanish language-only public meetings

to involve more diverse community members in park design and has seen an increase in turnout. Keck explains that the longer-term goal is to hold meetings where more community members participate together and reflect the diversity of the population, regardless of language differences, perhaps using translation services. Under this enhanced engagement process, a new park may undergo up to 12 public meetings throughout the design phase, from the initial community conversations and workshops, to the board meeting for design approval. This new process takes about a year, but THPRD views it as central to the mission. Paulsen points out: “We have been focusing our efforts

on constructing parks that are in underserved areas” — both socioeconomically and to balance distribution of parks throughout service boundaries. A side benefit is that the time invested up front actually speeds up the design process and enhances community support for the final design. Fundación Mi Parque and THPRD’s approaches are proactive, creative ways to connect with and better serve disadvantaged populations. The progress at home and abroad speaks to how the park and recreation industry can empower and improve communities in any geography. Katherine Stokke is the Interim Operations Analysis Manager for Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (

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MEMBER TO MEMBER Milwaukee Recreation: Weaving Equity into All It Does By Brian Foley


ince Milwaukee Recreation opened its doors more than a century ago, the goal has been to create affordable and accessible recreation opportunities for its community. As social equity becomes more entwined in parks and recreation, the recreation department intentionally has focused on ensuring that resources and opportunities are also allocated based on need. rec/Programs/Driver-Education. htm), which offers free driver education to students. Since 2016, this program has maintained a 97 percent pass rate on the permit test, while helping almost 1,000 students obtain a driver’s license. Also, in 2016, MPS C.A.R.E.S. (Community and Recreation Engaging Students) (http://milwau​ MPSCARES.htm) was developed in


The Steps Already Taken The department has introduced and restructured countless programs with equity in mind. For example, when data showed an alarming disparity between the number of Milwaukee 18-yearolds with a driver’s license (30 percent) compared to their suburban counterparts (71 percent), the department developed MPS Drive (

22 Parks & Recreation

response to the rising violence and unrest in the city. This program was uniquely designed and continues to provide free, equitable activities for community members of all ages. It consists of three components: Twilight Centers (http://milwau​ MPS-CARES/Twilight-Centers. htm), which give teens a safe place to go during the evenings; Wellness Days (http://milwaukeerecreation. net/en/Programs/MPS-CARES/ Wellness-Days.htm), which provide fitness classes and health education for families every month; and the Midnight Sports Leagues (http://, which allow young adults to join a safe, competitive league with additional enrichment education between games. Milwaukee Recreation Aquatics has led the charge in hiring and promoting a diverse aquatics staff (​ ics), which in turn has helped raise class participation by 50 percent. The Partnership for the Arts & Humanities (http://milwaukeerecre​​ manities.htm) program has reached roughly 320,000 children through out-of-school programming, 83 percent of whom were economiParticipants work through exercises at a free Yoga in the Park wellness event at Milwaukee’s Wick Playfield.

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An instructor teaches floating techniques during a swim lesson at Washington Park.

cally disadvantaged. MPS Athletics programs serve thousands of Milwaukee youth each year and continue to pair new coaches with schools that are looking to further their athletic offerings. Over the past two years, Milwaukee Recreation has launched a massive playfield renovation project to repair many of the city’s 52 playfields that had fallen into disrepair. The department completed an Outdoor Recreation Facilities Master Plan (http://milwaukeerecreation. net/rec/About/Master-Plan.htm), which rated 65 percent of the facilities as fair to poor and identified more than $25 million in needed improvements over a 10-year span. In order to prioritize the projects, the department developed an “equity prioritization model” (http://milwaukeerecreation. net/MPS-Recreation/Resources/ Playfields1/MPSPlayfieldEquity. pdf) that analyzed the neighborhood and population characteristics surrounding each playfield, as well as the condition rating for each site. The model was mirrored after work done in Minneapolis and resulted in a priority list of projects that emphasize racial and economic equity. Milwaukee Recreation quickly flipped the data results into civic action, hosting community engagement sessions to fully gauge the needs of each neighborhood. Construction begins this fall at three playfields across Milwaukee, with several more soon to follow in 2019.

Ongoing Efforts to Improve Equity Even with all the inroads the department has made over the years, equity has become an even larger priority for Milwaukee Recreation within the past few months. Throughout the spring and summer, the department officially kick-started its initiative to improve equity across its department and its programming with different sessions to assess needs, evaluate privilege and marginalization, and discuss other big-picture affairs. “I attended two trainings between 2016 and 2017 where I learned more about what other

Teens construct and test boats in the Menomonee River during the All Hands Boatworks summer camp.

recreation departments were doing around equity, which inspired me to bring these concepts back to our department,” says Milwaukee Recreation Senior Director Lynn Greb. “I knew there was a need in our city to ensure we were doing everything we could to level the playing field and ensure equitable access to recreation for all individuals in our community,” she adds. Dr. Latish Reed, the Milwaukee Public School equity specialist, and key individuals from many Mil-

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Experienced coaches train new staff at a football coaching clinic.

A child care camp director helps students construct a quilt during the Year of the Arts.

waukee Recreation departments make up the Milwaukee Recreation Equity Committee. The committee meets regularly to weigh the needs of staff members, so it can then create positive change in the community. “Recreation has always been a frontrunner for [equity],” explains Dr. Reed. “From the leadership to the [team members], 24 Parks & Recreation

we are really grappling with what equity means to the department and with the best way to mobilize. This work isn’t linear: It’s cyclical.” On March 19, the committee launched its training by convening all full-time staff for an off-site retreat. The session focused on the difference between equality and equity, covered recent self-assessment data and introduced the current MPS Equity Policy. The staff also went through the “Culturally Responsive Practice wheel” (https://tinyurl.

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com/ycjl5e5v), which is the framework surrounding awareness, analysis and action that guides all work for the district. The committee hosted another full-time staff meeting on June 7 to outline how to view one’s work through an equal-opportunity lens. Milwaukee Recreation is still in the initial stages of its push for equity, but by using the defined approach on the wheel, the department will establish a comprehensive plan to institute positive directives around the city. The reflection tool allows its practitioners to consider the people the department serves every day. “In an effort to aptly serve our community, which faces many challenges, it is important for us not only to understand these challenges, but also to do our part to help overcome them,” says Partnership for the Arts & Humanities Supervisor April Heding. “The first step is to become selfaware, not only of the department, but also for all employees to understand their unique cultural identities and how this affects their work.” Equity has always been a starting point for Milwaukee Recreation, but by officially bringing the issue to the front of the line, the ever-expanding department is clearly re-framing its objectives for the future. “At the end of the day, everyone has the right to high-quality, culturally relevant recreational activities, and it’s our job to make that happen,” says Heding. Brian Foley is the Web Content Specialist for Milwaukee Public Schools Department of Recreation and Community Services (

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Communicating Inclusion Through Images By Koboi Simpson


he concept of inclusion can be weighted and thorny, but ultimately, it tells us who is entitled to participate. The inverse can be just as powerful: Being excluded sends a clear message about who is not welcomed or, worse, not even considered.

Images play a powerful part in communicating the message of inclusion. Consider the photo frames at the local big-box store. Many of us browse the shelves looking for the right color, size and shape of the frame to display our fondest memories. Retailers try to help us decide by including pictures of families, celebrating life and familiar milestones. The goal is for us to imagine ourselves, our families and our friends in those actual frames.

For people of color and the differently abled, this exercise takes a little more effort. Few of the pictures in store-bought photo frames feature same-sex families, Quinceañera celebrations or interracial wedding receptions, although they are as commonplace and ubiquitous as are the stores that carry the merchandise. Members from these segments of society must strain to see themselves as a part of “normal life” represented in those frames.

Rebranding In 2016, the Clayton County Parks & Recreation Department adopted a new tagline, “It Starts in the PARKS,” and embarked on an initiative to rebrand itself. This created an opportunity to intentionally ensure that all imagery reflected the community, affirming its value and making a clear statement about who is welcome to take part in the program offerings. The initial step was to define the “It” in the tagline. The objective was to promote the benefits derived from the park and recreation


26 Parks & Recreation

The same comment could have been made about the marketing products created and distributed by the Clayton County Parks & Recreation Department. The branding efforts of the department, which serves a suburb just south of Atlanta, have historically targeted white members of the community, even though the most recent census data show that people of color comprise more than 70 percent of the population. Notwithstanding, print and electronic media routinely and consistently did not include images of African-American, Asian and Hispanic citizens in both internal and external marketing collateral. The result was the projection of a white citizenry, and an alienation of the majority of Clayton County constituents.

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experience. During a brainstorming session, staff members identified several rewards enjoyed by patrons and eventually settled on 12 values that described the experience offered, including friendship, respect, leadership, fun and fitness. The challenge was to present those values in an accessible manner for public consumption and appreciation, so a decision was made to capture images of constituents using the department’s programs and facilities and connect those photos to one of the corresponding values. The new tag line would accompany each image and chosen value on a series of posters, illustrat-

Each of the “It Starts in the PARKS!” posters reflects the park department’s constituents and a value they’d experience at the facility.

ing the values gained from the park and recreation experience, demonstrated by the engagement of park participants. Representation Matters Prior to production and distribution of the poster series, a focus group was convened to solicit feedback on the campaign. The group, composed of citizens who regularly patronized the department, was asked to brainstorm words it associat-


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ed with parks and recreation: like the exercise performed earlier by the department staff members. This proved to be a critical step in the process. Focus group members were blunt. They liked the values selected for the campaign but were highly critical of the images chosen to illustrate those ideals. Each participant saw him- or herself as representative of those values, and they wanted to see themselves reflected in the posters. However, the photographs depicted a very narrow, homogenous constit-

uency. The discussion was enlightening and humbling. Several pictures showed kids playing sports, but older focus group members rejected the idea that parks and recreation was only about youth athletics, reminding us that they enjoy walking the nature trails. Some women in the group explained that the young, ultra-fit bodies in the photos did not represent their friends, who regularly took aerobics classes at the recreation centers. The group told us, in no uncertain terms, that the images were

cherry-picked stereotypes of park and recreation participants often depicted in glossy, high-end chamber of commerce brochures, and they did not reflect the real Clayton County community. The participants pointed out that most of the department’s patrons were from communities of color, but most of the posters overlooked this fact. They were correct. The photos were curated to portray Clayton County like one of those communities promoted by Madison Avenue marketing firms, using traditional aesthetics as currency. This was clearly the result of our own internal bias. Based on the recommendations made by the focus group, additional photos were added, and the values were revised. Ultimately, the poster series grew to a total of 20 images with corresponding ideals, including several that previously had not been considered. The posters were printed and distributed throughout the park system: placed in recreation centers, park clubhouses, conference rooms, public libraries and elementary schools. The community was bombarded with the message that important values can be learned through participation in park and recreation programming, and every constituency is welcome. The response to the campaign was overwhelming. Through direct feedback from patrons, we learned that people saw themselves in the images, and they felt an invitation had been extended directly to them. While our campaign initially colSeeing themselves reflected in the branding campaign made patrons feel they had received a direct invitation.

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Images of actual recreation center aerobic class participants were used for this wellness poster.

lected images of Clayton County, we had not actually captured the community. When we speak of inclusion in society, we often point to the diversity of people gathered in a meeting space or assembled on a team. Too often, we forget that the manifestation of that diversity begins with a personal invitation to participate. How we promote ourselves to the public can go a long way in this regard. This was the lesson we learned through our branding campaign in the Clayton County Parks & Recreation Department. Inclusion: “It Starts in the PARKS!”

Koboi M. Simpson, CYSA, is the Deputy Administrator – Athletics for Clayton County Parks & Recreation (koboi.simpson@

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How Many Mayors Does It Take to Make a Movement? By Kevin O’Hara


et’s start with 225, which happens to be the number of mayors signed on to the national 10-Minute Walk Campaign. This campaign, a partnership between The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and NRPA, is predicated on the bold idea that everyone in America should live within a 10-minute walk to a quality park. It’s disarmingly simple, but the repercussions for quality of life in this country are immense.

Currently, 1 in 3 Americans doesn’t have access to a park within 10 minutes Currently, 1 in 3 Americans doesn’t have access to a park within 10 minutes, and we know from experience that the quality of the parks varies greatly for those who do. Imagine 100 million people who have access to the mind-clearing, exercise-inducing, joy-provid30 Parks & Recreation

ing experience of a great nearby park: the isolated senior who can interact with neighbors, the young mother who has a safe outlet for her kids, and the tweens and teens with a place to see and be seen. I don’t need to pontificate on the benefits of parks to this audience: You don’t need to drink the KoolAid. You made it! But, I do know that our industry can better educate decision makers at all levels on the transformative power of parks.

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We believe this effort is the start of something special, that the unique focus on parks and the aspirational nature of the campaign give us fodder for engaging with elected officials for years to come. I urge you to take a moment this October to celebrate how far we’ve come in one short year, and to lay the groundwork in your community that ensures your elected officials drink the Kool-Aid and sign on to the 10-Minute Walk Campaign. We’re one year in, with many more to go, but I’d say that 225 mayors and counting is something we can all be proud of, but we want you to know you’re not alone in this campaign. NRPA, along with our partners at ULI and TPL, are here to help!

Best Practices/ Knowledge Networks NRPA, in concert with our network of on-the-ground experts in 12 cities across the country, is developing best practices and practical advice to help you achieve your 10-minute walk goals. As part of that effort, NRPA has developed a 10-Minute Walk Learning Series (https://, where you can brainstorm with your fellow “parkies” on partnerships, community engagement, equity prioritization or sustained funding — a few of the many key components to increasing equitable park access and quality in your city. NRPA, TPL and the City Parks Alliance have developed Parkology™ (, where you can further engage with the parks community on tools and strategies to increase access to quality, close-tohome parks. To further empower cities to move the needle on park access and quality, TPL will be making the park locations and their corresponding 10-minute walk service areas from ParkServe® available for public download so cities can use that data to help prioritize parks and open space. ParkServe® is the first, national data platform that’s mapping park access in more than 14,000 cities and towns that are home to more than 260 million Americans. In addition, to highlight the critical benefits that parks and public green space provide to people across the country, TPL is establishing October 10 as “National Walk to a Park Day,” and NRPA is proud to support that effort. I encourage all of you to walk to your local parks, participate via social media, and do whatever you can to help draw attention to

the importance of having a highquality park close to home.

Research Stay tuned for some exciting new research from our friends at ULI. The Open Space Case: Why Real Estate Leaders Should Invest in Parks and Open Spaces report explores the benefits of private-sector involvement in the creation, maintenance, operation and programming of community-accessible parks and open space — ranging from enhanced returns on investment for developers that include parks or open spaces in their projects, to opportunities to increase equitable access to green space. The report explores innovative private- and cross-sector park-development strategies and aims to motivate real estate developers to maximize their project success by further focusing on open space. This joint publication by ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative and its Sustainable Development Council (SDC) includes key insights gleaned from project stakeholder interviews and case studies, as well as highlights from

the latest research on the financial and health benefits of parks and open space. Visit http://www. on 10/10 to download your copy! Regardless of whether your community is near your goal of 100 percent 10-minute walk access or if you have a ways to go, please use this campaign as a beachhead to establish your agency as the solution provider to much of what ails our society and to the critical role that parks play in all of your neighborhoods. So, on 10/10, take your mayor on a walk to a park, invite your city councilors to take a 10-minute walk in their wards, heck, get your whole city in on the game and clock where they’d end up in 10 minutes. We may not always like the answer, but the conversation must start somewhere! Most of all, enjoy the fresh air and exercise because, on 10/10, the wind generated by hundreds of mayors who’ve committed to the 10-Minute Walk goal will be strongly at our backs. Kevin O’Hara is NRPA’s Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs (

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Championship Time Standards Disqualify Disabled Athletes By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.


n the case of A.H. v. Illinois High School Association, 881 F.3d 587, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2708 (7th Cir. 2/2/2018), a disabled athlete requested “the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) create a separate division with different time standards for para ambulatory runners in the Sectional and State championship track meets, as well as the annual 5K Road Race.” The IHSA denied these requests, and plaintiff A.H. brought a lawsuit alleging he had been discriminated against on the basis of his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 42 U.S.C. §§ 12132, 12182(a).

A.H. was a full member of the track and field team, and he had never been prevented by his school or the IHSA from being on the team or participating at individual school meets.

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Facts of the Case A.H., a senior at Evanston Township High School, was a member of the school’s track and field team, despite his physical limitations from spastic quadriplegia related to cerebral palsy. He had been a three-sport athlete in cross country, swimming, and track and field at Evanston Township High School since his freshman year.

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A.H. was classified by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as a T-36 disabled athlete, meaning that his disability impairs his muscular control, balance, coordination and range of motion. A.H. has limited coordination in both his legs and arms, and a limited range of motion in his hips, knees and ankles. Thus, his disability hinders crucial parts of his body that are essential for running. A.H. was a full member of the track and field team, and he had never been prevented by his school or the IHSA from being on the team or participating at individual school meets. In fact, he has never missed a track meet in his high school career. He was fully embraced and respected by both his

coaches and teammates. Moreover, he was considered an elite athlete within the disabled athletic community, as he competed at the U.S. Paralympic Trials in 2016.

ADA Accommodation Policy The IHSA is a not-for-profit voluntary association that organizes and regulates interscholastic high school athletic events throughout Illinois. It consists of 810 public and private-member high schools, more than 90 percent of the high schools in Illinois. The IHSA’s board of directors comprises 10 principals from its member high schools who have the final authority on the overall operations and rules; an executive director of the IHSA oversees the day-to-day operations. The executive director has complete authority to decide accommodation requests, which can be brought by member schools or by an individual. There is no published criteria that the executive director consults when evaluating such requests. His or her ruling on an accommodation request can be appealed to the 10-member board, which will hold a hearing with the student-athlete and other relevant parties. The IHSA maintains an “Accommodation Policy for Students with Disabilities,” which states: It is the policy of the IHSA to provide students with disabilities full and equal opportunities to be integrated in IHSA interscholastic sports and activities whenever possible. IHSA recognizes and adopts the definition of disability as provided within the ADA. The IHSA will not discriminate against students with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs, or activities. The IHSA has implemented this policy through divisions within particular sports for student-athletes with disabilities. These divisions have included a para-ambulatory division at swim meets and a wheelchair division at track and field meets. The IHSA, however, did not have a para-ambulatory division for runners like A.H. in the track and field meets it regulates.

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Only 10 Percent Qualify While the IHSA did not organize or regulate individual school meets throughout the track and field season, it did manage the two most important track meets: the Sectional meet and the State championship meet. To qualify for the State championship meet (“State”), runners had to place first or second in their event or attain a particular qualifying time at the Sectional meet. Runners who competed at State could achieve points for their team to determine which team won the overall State championship. The IHSA does not preclude any runner from participating at Sectionals, as individual track and field teams determine who runs in the events. A.H. ran the 1600-meter race for his team at Sectionals in the spring 2017.

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By design, the State qualifying times established by the IHSA at the Sectional meet preclude thousands of able-bodied runners from qualifying for State each year. Approximately 10 percent of all runners on IHSA-member track and field teams qualify for State.

ADA Accommodation Requests A.H. could not possibly attain any of the qualifying times for State. In fact, world-record holders in the T-36 classification would be unable to achieve any of the qualifying times. Accordingly, on September 26, 2015, A.H., on an individual basis, submitted the following three accommodation requests to the IHSA: (1) IHSA create separate para-ambulatory time standards for the Sectional and State meets in the 100-, 200-, 400-, and 800-meter races; (2) IHSA create a para-ambulatory division in the annual 5K Road Race; and, (3) A.H. be allowed to use a modified starting block in the 100, 200, and 400 races.

A.H. could not possibly attain any of the qualifying times for State. In fact, world-record holders in the T-36 classification would be unable to achieve any of the qualifying times. In his first accommodation request, A.H. recommended IHSA adopt the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) qualifying times for para-ambulatory runners. A.H. had recorded personal best times in the 100, 200, 34 Parks & Recreation

400 and 800 that would qualify him for State under the LHSAA qualifying times.

Civil Rights Office Guidance On October 8, 2015, the executive director granted A.H.’s third request for a modified starting block, but he denied the first two requests. In so doing, the executive director determined these accommodation requests were “not reasonable” because A.H. “currently has the same opportunity to compete in track and field as his nondisabled peers.” In reaching this determination, the executive director relied on guidance from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (DOE OCR). The DOE OCR noted in a letter to school officials that students with disabilities must be provided access to extracurricular activities, but schools were under no obligation to create separate or different activities for the disabled. On October 25, 2015, A.H. appealed the executive director’s ruling. The IHSA Board held a hearing on December 14, 2015, and sustained the executive director’s decision to deny the requests. The board noted that A.H. was already part of the team, and that being part of the team was a greater intangible benefit than participating at State. Moreover, the board emphasized that the IHSA’s goal is to integrate disabled athletes with able-bodied athletes, rather than separating them. Finally, the board concluded that granting A.H.’s request would provide him an unfair competitive advantage, because he would have a greater opportunity to advance to State and earn points for his team.

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ADA Claim A.H. filed his lawsuit in federal district court on February 4, 2016, seeking injunctive relief to compel the IHSA to adopt the separate para-ambulatory qualifying times and divisions at the Sectional and State track meets, as well as the Road Race. The complaint alleged that IHSA’s refusal to adopt these accommodations amounted to impermissible discrimination against disabled individuals in violation of the ADA. After discovery, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the IHSA. The district court found that A.H. could not show that the alleged discrimination had occurred on the basis or by reason of his disability. Even if he had presented such evidence of discrimination based on disability, the district court found his accommodation requests were not reasonable, because the requested accommodations would fundamentally alter the nature of the IHSA’s track and field competitions. A.H. appealed.

Based on Disability As cited by the federal appeals court, in pertinent part, the ADA provides protections against discrimination for disabled individuals in any public entity, as well as in places of public accommodation: No disabled individuals shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity. No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, fa-

cilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation. In this instance, the appeals court acknowledged the “benefits desired” by A.H. were “to qualify for State.” As noted by the court, the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals “by reason of ” the disability or “on the basis of ” the disability. Accordingly, the court found A.H. had to prove that “but for his disability, he would have been able to access the services or benefits desired.” In other words, to establish the necessary “but for” causation (i.e., discrimination solely based on disability), the appeals court found A.H. would have to demonstrate that his physical disability alone prevented him from achieving the qualifying times that would have allowed him to qualify for State. The appeals court found A.H. already had “an opportunity to participate and run in the Sectional meet, but his disability impacts his ability to achieve the qualifying times necessary to qualify” for State. Accordingly, he had requested the IHSA “establish different qualifying times for para-ambulatory runners that will allow him to qualify for State.”

Not Based on Disability In the opinion of the federal appeals court, disabled runners, like A.H., we’re not necessarily “unable to attain these qualifying times for State” simply “by reason of ” or “on the basis of ” their disability.” On the contrary, the appeals court found the qualifying times simply “ensure that the State championship meet is reserved for the best

and fastest runners in Illinois.” As a result, the appeals court acknowledged: “The odds are overwhelming that runners like A.H. would not meet the qualifying times even

if they were not disabled”: The IHSA qualifying time standards are designed to make the individual races extremely competitive, purposely excluding

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a great-majority of runners from reaching State. The demanding qualifying times established by the IHSA exclude able-bodied and disabled runners alike, leaving 90% of all runners, many thousands, in fact, from participating at State every year. To demonstrate ADA discrimination, A.H. had argued that “the world-record holders in his T-36 classification” could not meet the IHSA’s qualifying times. The federal appeals court, however, found the ADA causation analysis (i.e., discrimination solely based on disability) would depend on whether A.H. would necessarily qualify for State if he were “not disabled.”

As noted by the federal appeals court, the ADA also imposes a duty to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled individuals. The fact that A.H. does not have a chance to qualify as a disabled runner does not establish that the qualifying standards set by the IHSA are the but-for cause of his failure to qualify for State. While A.H. is a gifted runner given his disability, A.H. has not established that, were he not disabled, he would be among the 10 percent of track and field athletes who qualify for State each year.

Reasonable Accommodation? As noted by the federal appeals court, the ADA also imposes a duty to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled individuals. In this instance, A.H. had requested the IHSA create “a para-ambula36 Parks & Recreation

tory division, with qualifying time standards that are better suited for runners like him, at the Sectional and State championship meet, as well as the Road Race.” The issue before the federal circuit court of appeals was, therefore, whether the requested accommodation was “reasonable” under the ADA. As cited by the court, “an accommodation is unreasonable if it imposes significant financial or administrative costs, or it fundamentally alters the nature of the program or service.” A.H. had claimed his requested accommodations would not impose such financial or administrative burdens on IHSA. In so doing, he had noted “the IHSA already has separate divisions in track and field for female runners, wheelchair athletes, and runners from smaller schools.”

Fundamental Alteration of Competition According to the appeals court, IHSA had never claimed that “creating a para-ambulatory division would be burdensome in this way,” (i.e., imposing significant financial or administrative costs). Instead, IHSA claimed “A.H.’s lower qualifying time standards would undermine the competitiveness of the State championship meet and the Road Race.” Specifically, IHSA argued that implementation of A.H.’s proposed accommodations would “fundamentally alter the nature of the State championship track competition and Road Race, because they would guarantee A.H. increased participation and success.” In response, A.H. claimed he was “not seeking lower time stan-

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dards for all runners, but rather the creation of a para-ambulatory division.” The appeals court rejected this argument: The fact that A.H.’s proposed accommodations would not affect the qualifying times of able-bodied runners is of no consequence. The creation of a new division would lower the current qualifying times and make it easier for certain runners to qualify for State or medal in the Road Race. Citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the federal appeals court recognized that “lowering particular eligibility or qualifying requirements established by an entity can be substantial modifications that are unreasonable.” In particular, the appeals court acknowledged that “a fundamental alteration” of a sporting event “occurs either through a significant change that affects all athletes alike, but alters an essential aspect of the game; or, through a peripheral change that gives a disabled athlete an advantage over others.” According to the IHSA, “the qualifying time standards ensure a certain level of competition and maintain a necessary scarcity of opportunity.” The appeals court agreed. In the opinion of the court, a new division of runners with lower qualifying times for State “would fundamentally alter the essential nature of the Sectional and State track and field meets, as well as the Road Race.” The essential nature of a track and field race is to run a designated distance in the shortest time possible. The IHSA’s time standards, which govern which runners can qualify for the State championship, underscore the essence of the sport:

one must run as fast as possible to achieve the predetermined times. A.H. conceded his disability affects his running skills and his ability to compete with able-bodied runners at the Sectional meet. In his accommodation request to the IHSA, however, he had proposed adopting the LHSAA qualifying times for the para-ambulatory division, all of which he had easily accomplished and would assure that he qualify for State. As characterized by the appeals court: “A.H. clearly seeks an accommodation that would make him competitive and allow him to achieve results he currently cannot achieve.” The appeals court, however, determined A.H.’s accommo-

dation requests were “unreasonable as a matter of law” because “the ADA does not require the IHSA to alter the fundamental nature of their track and field events.” A.H. currently has the opportunity to compete in the Sectionals meet in order to qualify for State, as well as an opportunity to compete for a medal in the Road Race. The IHSA guarantees A.H. this equality of opportunity, and by all accounts, A.H., his teammates, and coaches have benefitted tremendously from his participation on the track and field team. However, the IHSA is not required under federal law to guarantee A.H. the results he desires from those opportunities.

The appeals court, however, determined A.H.’s accommodation requests were “unreasonable as a matter of law” because “the ADA does not require the IHSA to alter the fundamental nature of their track and field events." As a result, the federal appeals court affirmed the federal district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the IHSA. James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D., is an Attorney and Associate Professor in the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism at George Mason University ( Webpage with link to law review articles archive (1982 to present): http://

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This group of older adults shows the varying ages that can exist within this segment of the population.

Social Equity in Senior Programs By Bates McKinney


et’s go to the park!” When you read that line, whose voice comes to mind? Is it a child wanting to go to the playground? Parents planning a picnic? What about programs being offered by parks and recreation? The reality is that most people don’t think about older adults when they read this line. This is because of ageism expressed toward and by the older adult population. When it comes to social equity, we realize that facilities and programs need to be made accessible regardless of income, race and ability. But, what about age? According to the activity theory, older adults have a higher quality of life when they are physically, mentally and

When planning activities for older adults, it’s important to remember that you’re not planning for a narrow age group, like you are with kids and teens. 38 Parks & Recreation

socially engaged. Social isolation is known to be devastating to a person’s health and overall well-being. However, many older adults sequester themselves in their homes. This desire to hide away is partially due to the ageist ideas presented by younger generations, but, unfortunately, it also arises because of the ageism older adults show themselves. They don’t want to be viewed as “old.” By 2025, 1 in 4 people in Spartanburg, South Carolina, will be 65 years of age and older: a pattern that’s happening in the rest of the

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country. When planning activities for older adults, it’s important to remember that you’re not planning for a narrow age group, like you are with kids and teens. You are planning for people who range in age from 50 to more than 100 years old. That five-decade age range includes people of differing abilities and interests, so you must go beyond bingo, ball toss and potlucks to include activities that do not seem to be age-appropriate, including kayaking and going to amusement parks. Spartanburg County Parks realizes the importance of social equity for older adults and is working to achieve social equity on all seven dimensions of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical. We meet these needs

through a Day Trippers program and the Spartanburg Council on Aging (SCOA). The Day Trippers consists of trips, clubs, lunch bunch, educational series and more. SCOA offers a minimum of four unique activities each day with lunch. It is free to attend for anyone 60 years of age and older. The only requirement is that participants be assessed by the Appalachian Council of Governments ( This is important from a social equity standpoint, since it allows us to identify what needs a person has and thus help them overcome any barriers to living as independently as possible. The Day Trippers and SCOA participants are encouraged to take part in all programs offered by Spartanburg Parks.

Social Well-Being We offer trips that range from $5 to more than $100. The social clubs include game club, softball, bowling and pickle ball. Bowling is the only activity with a cost, and it is strictly for the cost of shoes. Lunch Bunch is Dutch treat. We try local restaurants located across Spartanburg County that the attendees have recommended. In addition, each month, recreation assistants hold advisory meetings where SCOA participants talk about what activities they want to do. Each site’s calendar is specific to the group attending the site.

Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being Emotional and spiritual well-being is addressed through religious as well as artistic activities. Religious discussions, meditation and yoga classes are offered.

Environmental Well-Being The Day Trippers meet at a different park or walking trail each month (i.e., city, county or state). This walking group not only encourages participants to be physically active, but also educates them about the wonderful parks and trails available to them at no cost.

Occupational Well-Being Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs stresses the importance of feeling purposeful. At the SCOA sites, volunteers help serve meals, call bingo and lead activities.

Intellectual Well-Being An educational series, Seniors Take Charge, allows participants to be armchair tourists as they learn about different cultures and religions. It is free to attend these meetings. For Older Americans Month in May, we had a free, day-long Senior Enrichment Day conference, which offered attendees classes ranging from crafts, CPR/First Aid education, archery and gardening, to outdoor survival training. A health fair ran concurrent to the classes and lunch was provided. There are people with typical and atypical aging and differing cognitive abilities, so programs, such as puzzles and adult coloring, are offered that can be completed at different levels of interest and ability. Also, students at Wofford College come to two of our sites and lead writing workshops and hold discussions.

Physical Well-Being Physical wellness is arguably the most important dimension for aging adults. Physical activity relates to flexibility, which correlates to

Older adults’ programming needs to include a variety of activities, from athletic events to board games, like checkers.

overall vitality. A person’s mobility often determines how independently they can live. Day Trippers has different exercise programs, from softball and bowling, to pickle ball and walking groups. SCOA is offered at seven locations throughout the county, and the plan is to have at least 10 locations so everyone has a site close to them. Transportation often is a major concern for older adults, but thanks to a partnership with Spartanburg Regional Transportation, we can transport participants to and from the sites at no cost. We have also partnered with Mobile Meals to offer a nutritious meal to individuals who are unable to leave their homes. While we have achieved social equity in some areas, we still have room for improvement. For example, we offer programs for people 50+, but we don’t have many people 50–60 years old participating. Is this because they don’t like the “senior” label? Are they still working and, therefore, not available during the day? We also want to reach people from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as more men. We are looking at starting a men’s golf club and coffee hour. Social equity is possible for all if older adults can be active, engaged and in charge. Bates McKinney is the Recreation Coordinator II - 50+ Wellness for Spartanburg County Parks Department (bmckinney@

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Children at play in a nature-based play space, which helps to restore the critical connection between children and the outdoors.

Cities Address Racial Disparities in Access to Nature By Priya Cook


n The Color of Law, author Richard Rothstein describes extensively how federal, state and local government policies and practices aimed at racial segregation set a double standard in the quality of neighborhoods for whites and blacks. For example, he describes how President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration, whose goal was to alleviate a national housing shortage and create jobs, rarely included “plentiful green space” in residential projects for African Americans in contrast to those for whites. At the municipal level, Rothstein notes how park districts condemned and seized land to prevent impending construction of homes by or for African Americans. So, what can cities do to address the disparities in physical and emotional access to nature that result from these and other barriers systematically imposed on communities of color? Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) ( cities-connecting-children-to-na ture) sites respond to the impact of these inequities with strategies developed through in-depth examina-

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tion of local policy, infrastructure, programs and lived experiences of residents. Their goal is systemwide change that builds more connection to nature for all children. Following are a few lessons learned:

Cities need youth and resident co-producers. Tidy park surveys and community input meetings advertised on city

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websites, alone, won’t do. Nature isn’t limited to parks, and human connection to nature is personal. With the aim of co-producing approaches to increased nature connection, cities use residents’ insights to understand desires, hopes and challenges faced by all residents in connecting to nature. Children’s crayon renderings of public spaces, discussions facilitated by youth among their peers (like the conversations that took place at a KidSpeak event in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan — https://tinyurl. com/ycvj54bp) and trusted neighborhood leaders deployed to laundromats, libraries and community gathering spaces, lift up voices usually missing from typical community engagement events and connect cities to what’s really going on in their neighborhoods.

City leaders set a vision for equitable nature connection. City leaders know that residents’ relationship with nature has implications for their health and well-being, as well as for the city’s vibrancy and resilience. Mayors and other leaders convene multi-sector stakeholders to set a vision, such as a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights (https://tinyurl. com/yckv4d3o) in Austin and San Francisco, and use that shared commitment as a launch pad for changes to city policy. As Mayor Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, noted in his 2018 State of the City Address: “We’re connecting kids to nature because we know that spending time outdoors has tremendous benefits for physical and mental health.”

System change requires cross-sector champions. No one city agency or community organization alone enables nature connection, so opportunities abound (and success requires) for municipal leaders to blur the boundaries of city and regional government and work across public agencies, such as public health, transportation, education, parks, planning and utilities. Outof-school time, youth development, environmental organizations, faithbased communities and others similarly have a vital role to play. Using the principles above, CCCN city teams bring nature connection into focus across local systems, with significant leadership from park departments and technical assistance from CCCN partners, National League of Cities and the Children & Nature Network. The pilot group of CCCN cities applied an asset-based lens to discern the most promising strategies in their cities, and the following strategies emerged:

Green schoolyards Green schoolyards replace asphalt or

lawns with nature-filled places for students, teachers, parents and community members to play, learn, explore and grow. In addition to affording increased nature connection, these spaces also address stormwater capture and other environmental and community benefits, without requiring further land acquisition. The city of Providence received funds from Rhode Island Housing to support its systemwide green schoolyards strategy, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, leveraged city, school and private investments to launch theirs.

Early childhood nature play spaces Cities like Madison, Wisconsin, and San Francisco looked to family, friend and neighbor providers, as well as to public, private, licensed and unlicensed sites to create nature connection where young children already spend their time. Partners include local and regional accreditation agencies, zoning authorities, site directors, Head Start, and parks and health agencies. Cities like Seattle, Washington, and Austin, Texas, also operate nature preschools through partnerships between early childhood providers and city park departments.

Park activation Although some cities enjoy an abundance of natural features in city and regional parks, longstanding usage patterns, discriminatory practices, transportation barriers and varying quality may prevent some users from regular connection with nature. Cities like Saint Paul, Minnesota, work to reorient priorities, retrain and support staff and adopt new procedures to address communication barriers. Louisville, Kentucky, launched a green career pathways program, embedding nature connection in workforce development. Houston designs culturally relevant programming, such as geocaching, macro photography, Dutch-oven cooking, Lego/

robotics/STEM activities, overnight camping and angler education.

Infuse nature connection in afterschool and summer activities Many cities, school districts and their partners have out-of-school time networks set up to support children’s academic achievement and overall well-being outside of school hours through a wide array of activities. Working with those networks to move their programs outdoors or enhance their activities through exposure to nature can improve programmatic outcomes across the board, as in Saint Paul, where YMCA and park partners launched a free inner city summer camp (https://

Nature in libraries Two common city agencies, parks and libraries, have found opportunity to collaborate to create NatureSmart Libraries in Saint Paul. Installation of pollinator prairies and outdoor reading gardens, coupled with programming that promotes literacy and environmental education feature in the collaboration. Library patrons can also check out Nature Backpacks and use the enclosed binoculars and field guides in library gardens and adjacent parks. Eleven new cities joined the CCCN initiative in 2018, bringing interest in transportation, blight reduction, youth employment, trauma-response and resilience into their planning and assessment work, along with the potential for uncovering new strategies. With growing evidence on the benefits of nature (, both children and the natural world stand to gain from thoughtful intervention to close the nature gap. Priya Cook is Principal Associate, Connecting Children to Nature, for the National League of Cities (

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Addressing Health Disparities in Rural America By Allison Colman


cross the United States, rural communities face their fair share of obstacles. They often struggle with higher poverty rates, lower health literacy levels, unpredictable employment and fewer resources that support access to healthy foods and physical activity — obstacles that can contribute to poor health outcomes among rural residents and a diminished quality of life. Local park and recreation agencies are a critical component of promoting equitable health outcomes in any community, but they may fill an even larger role in rural areas where resources are limited, and residents must overcome substantial challenges to engage in healthy opportunities.

More than 15.5 percent of rural residents live in food insecure households, with financial constraints often cited as the primary reason and food deserts — areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food — as a secondary concern. 42 Parks & Recreation

Health Equity in Rural America The social determinants of health, including the neighborhood and built environment, health and healthcare, social and community context, education and economic stability, are often directly related to health outcomes. When communities consistently face barriers to these social determinants, inequities exist and persist over generations. Public health dispar-

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ities between rural and nonrural communities are well documented in the research shared in articles, such as “Introduction to Food Security and Healthy Food Access” on the Rural Health Information Hub ( toolkits/food-access/1/food-secu rity-and-access), which shows that the more rural an area, the higher the rate of food insecurity, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, the CDC reports that with all health factors accounted for, children in rural areas (57.7 deaths per 100,000) compared to those in large central areas (37.5 deaths per 100,000) experience higher mortality rates among persons 1–24 years of age ( mcd-icd10.html). Food access and health literacy play a significant role in these pub-

At left, children at Tunica Parks and Recreation in Mississippi receive healthy meals each day and learn about growing fresh produce in the community garden.

lic health disparities. More than 15.5 percent of rural residents live in food insecure households, with financial constraints often cited as the primary reason and food deserts — areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food — as a secondary concern. Nearly 5.8 percent of rural residents travel 10–20 miles to reach a supermarket and, with a lack of public or oftentimes reliable transportation, that burden becomes much greater. Communities often cite a lack of health literacy as another significant barrier when motivating community members to make positive behavior changes to their poor nutrition habits. Community Assets That Promote Health Despite the challenges, there are long-standing community assets, including parks and recreation, that can be leveraged to promote better health and wellness outcomes in rural America. Many residents of rural communities have been integral members of those communities for generations, creating strong, historical bonds that can be seen through lasting industries, town spirit and pride, strong work ethic and a willingness to help each another. These communities also thrive through innovation and creativity, and they can make significant impacts with limited resources. As trusted entities and established community-based leaders, park and recreation agencies are well-suited to tap into these assets

to address the social determinants of health, specifically around access to healthy foods, health literacy and youth development. Parks and Recreation Promoting Rural Health With support from the Walmart Foundation, NRPA is working to address these health disparities and the social determinants of health in rural communities. Through the 2018 Healthy Out-of-School Time Grant, NRPA is funding a cohort of 10 rural park and recreation agencies in Colorado, Kansas and Mississippi to increase access to healthy meals and snacks during out-of-school times, provide evidence-based nutrition education to youth and families, and adopt practices and policies that improve healthy eating and physical activity environments.

Nearly 5.8 percent of rural residents travel 10–20 miles to reach a supermarket and, with a lack of public or oftentimes reliable transportation, that burden becomes much greater. One of the communities benefiting from the grant is Tunica County, located in the Mississippi Delta. Known as the “gateway to the blues,” Tunica County is part of a region that for decades has struggled with persistent poverty, food insecurity and poor health. Thirty-eight percent of its 10,000 residents live in food-insecure homes, and there is only one grocery store in town that covers 481 square miles. Despite these struggles, the Tunica County Parks and Recreation department is working with

Many rural residents live in food insecure households, where financial constraints and limited access to affordable and nutritious food are primary concerns.

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During the summer camp programs, Tunica 10-Point Coalition, a nonprofit park and recreation agency partner, serves breakfast and lunch at all four rec centers and local Boys and Girls Club.

a variety of partners to promote healthy food access and improve physical, mental and social health outcomes across the community. “We’re here to make a difference in the lives of those we serve,” says Dr. Billy Willis, director of Tunica County Parks and Recreation. “We have a mission to put into practice enrichment principles that build healthy minds, bodies and spirit for all.”

Local park and recreation agencies are a powerful part of a healthy, happy and strong community, dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens. 44 Parks & Recreation

Tunica County leads these efforts by investing in its youth. During summer camp and afterschool programs, park and recreation staff dedicate time each week to nutrition education and physical activity, sending home newsletters, activities and healthy recipes to reinforce these positive behaviors at home. Children can engage with their peers through games, sports and enrichment offerings that teach respect, teamwork and communication skills. Caregivers and children can attend healthy cooking classes at the recreation center or step outside and help themselves to the fruits and vegetables from the community garden. Also, while the children attend these out-of-school time programs and engage in healthy living activities, they can connect with role models, mentors and academic support that keeps them engaged, learning and out of trouble.

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“Today’s youth will one day be tomorrow’s leaders,” Willis adds. “If we invest in youth now, one day, they will be ones standing in my shoes, capable of making a difference in our community and the world.” Tunica County Parks and Recreation is also bridging the gap between schools, nonprofit organizations and the faith-based community. Breakfast and lunch are served each day by the Tunica 10-Point Coalition, a nonprofit partner of the park and recreation agency, to kids attending programs at all four recreation centers and the local Boys and Girls Club. In partnership with the American Heart Association, new “hoop house gardens” are being installed at the recreation centers, providing an opportunity for year-round produce and addressing an extreme need in a community where fresh fruits and vegetables are quite limited. In partnership with the MidSouth Food Bank, a backpack meal program runs year-round, sending home six healthy and shelf-stable meals each weekend. Tunica Parks and Recreation leverages these relationships and cross-sector partnerships to make a greater impact across the county. In Tunica and other rural communities across the country, local park and recreation agencies are a powerful part of a healthy, happy and strong community, dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens. As Dr. Willis says, “The strongest asset in Tunica County is the people we serve: the citizens. Without the people we serve, we wouldn’t be here.” Allison Colman is an NRPA Senior Program Manager and identifies as She/ Her/Hers (

BRIDGING A DIVIDE Through Park Design The 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington, D.C. By Hallie Boyce, RLA


ver the past 20 years, Washington, D.C., has been experiencing a building boom, but in stark contrast to the city’s overall economic progress, the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River continue to suffer from decades of disinvestment. While many Washingtonians refer to this area as “Anacostia,” there are numerous neighborhoods that border the river in both Wards 7 and 8. During the era of urban renewal, the construction of regional highways along the river’s eastern edge physically cut off these communities from this natural resource, which used to be a place for fishing and swimming.

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The Bridge Park will connect neighborhoods that have been historically divided, by creating a vibrant place of exchange on the Anacostia River.

Today, these neighborhoods still lack access to the critical amenities of healthy food sources, sufficient social and medical services, and safe places for recreation. These Wards have some of the highest unemployment, obesity and illness rates in the city. Neighborhoods like Congress Heights, Historic Anacostia, Fairlawn and others are also feeling the pressures of gentrification. It is within this social, environ-

The OMA+OLIN team experimented with an array of bridge forms before arriving at the iconic “X” — each arm of the bridge reaching out from its own side of the river before converging and creating a place of exchange at the midpoint of the river. The form grew out of the need for accessible paths from both sides of the river and the desire to integrate the distinct landscape characters found on both sides of the river: the densely built Capitol Riverfront to the west and the more open landscape of the Anacostia Park to the east.

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mental and economic context that the 11th Street Bridge Park project has been conceived by Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR), a visionary nonprofit based east of the river in Ward 8. Co-founded by Skip McMahon and led by Rahsaan Bernard, BBAR runs the Townhall Education Arts and Recreation Center (THEARC), a consortium of organizations that provides access to high-quality educational, health, cultural, recreational and social services to improve the quality of life for children and adults living east of the Anacostia. Scott Kratz, vice president of BBAR and director of the Bridge Park project, has been a tireless champion since its inception and is joined by a talented team that is working toward opening the Bridge Park in 2023. During the 17th century, the Anacostia River was 40 feet deep and teeming with fish; its shores were lush woodlands. For much of the 20th century, as with most

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American cities, industrial sites and landfills dominated the waterfront, leeching contaminants into the water and soil. Today, the Anacostia, often referred to as “DC’s Forgotten River,” flows from Prince George’s County, Maryland, into our nation’s capital, where it joins with the Potomac River. Its 176-square-mile watershed largely sits within the state of Maryland in the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin, which, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, is considered one of the most degraded waterways in the United States. The city’s combined sewer system, increasingly taxed by population growth and the effects of climate change, still dumps raw sewage directly into the river daily. At the behest of grassroots organizations, like the Anacostia Watershed Society, the District of Columbia has been working over the past 30 years to address this issue. Recent efforts by DC Water in 2018 to build new storage capacity will redirect 80 percent of this polluted water through wastewater treatment facilities before releasing it back into the Potomac River. Another ongoing water-quality issue, however, is the flow of trash and debris flowing into the Anacostia via tributaries from throughout its massive watershed.

Early Community Engagement In 2011, work on the project began with a monumental community engagement process. More than 200 neighborhood meetings were held with residents and other stakeholders

A Community-Responsive Design Ultimately, the public, the Design Oversight Committee and the formal jury of design professionals selected OMA+OLIN’s proposal: an iconic “X” structure constructed on top of repurposed bridge piers that support the park and allow it to float over the river. The design team stretched “stepping stones” of the community’s desired program — including an amphitheater for performance, a café, community gardens, a play area, an environmental education center, waterfalls and planting — across the Anacostia River. The design team carefully considered the placement of each programmatic element to ensure a true “Place of Exchange” for residents and visitors from both sides of the river. Given the presence of the Capitol Riverfront Park and its existing amenities west of the river, many of the key amenities for the 11th Street Bridge Park were located toward the eastern half of the bridge to encourage visitors to visit businesses and cultural sites in Historic Anacostia and the adjacent

neighborhoods. In addition, the team designed the entrance from Good Hope Road to be a welcoming approach to the Bridge Park, with picnic areas, a canoe/kayak launch and demonstration gardens associated with the Environmental Education Center. The project’s design integrates four key goals: to connect neighborhoods that have historically been divided by the river, to reengage residents with the river and educate the public about the importance of ecosystem health, to improve residents’ health by providing safe places for play and exercise, and to encourage equitable and inclusive economic growth. Key to the design is Anaquash Plaza, a multifunctional space at the center of the structure. Its name is derived from the Nacotchtank Indian term meaning “village trading center.” A yearly calendar of community events will attract residents from both sides of the river, as well as regional visitors and tourists from around the world. At the ends of the crossing pedestrian paths, vis-

itors will experience iconic views along the river, west toward Capitol Hill and east toward Cedar Hill, the historic home of writer, statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who crossed the river each day on his way to Capitol Hill.

Healthy River, Healthy Community Human health and ecosystem health are indelibly interconnected, a relationship that the Bridge Park design team sought to embody in the design. The Bridge Park will allow visitors to easily cross the river and will provide a key moment in the existing Anacostia Riverwalk Trail system, a continuous 20-mile trail on both sides of the river. It will include walking and running loops, as well as places for play and group exercise. The Environmental Education Center will track the status of the Anacostia River’s health and the many private and public efforts to clean the Anacostia. The center will demonstrate multiple green-infrastructure strategies that city residents can support toward The Bridge Park Plots program has realized a network of community gardens on both sides of the river.


on both sides of the river. These early conversations provided the framework and programmatic basis for a design competition held in 2014 by BBAR, which will manage the Bridge Park when it opens to the public. BBAR formed a Design Oversight Committee of residents, community leaders, business owners and adjacent landowners to ensure the community’s aspirations would continue to be prioritized throughout the competition phase. Competition teams — including OMA+OLIN — gained valuable feedback from this committee during the design process, which informed the most responsive proposals.

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further cleaning the waters, encouraging the public to become active stewards of their riverways.

Equitable Development Plan


Given Washington, D.C.’s rapidly changing racial and economic demographics and based on the early community engagement, concerns have been raised about the potential displacement of nearby residents. As rents double or triple in the center of the city, residents east of the river fear their own neighborhoods will fall prey to development pressures that will push them further out to the suburbs. Many people have expressed anxiety that the residents who helped to shape the vision for the Bridge Park would not be able to remain in their communities and benefit from the realization of the park. To proactively address this challenge and shape future change and economic growth, BBAR enlisted the help of Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) DC, a community development organization that has had a strong presence in Washington, D.C., for the past 30 years. In the fall of 2014, LISC DC

worked with BBAR staff to create an Equitable Development Task Force consisting of research and planning experts who helped craft an Equitable Development Plan ( Based on demographic data and work sessions with residents, community leaders and government officials, this task force defined four focus areas that the Bridge Park and its partners can follow: workforce development, small business enterprise, housing and cultural equity strategies. LISC DC made a financial commitment of $50 million toward supporting these programs through its “Elevating Equity” initiative to encourage inclusive development within a 1-mile radius of the future park site. To ensure action was taken in each of the four areas, a series of strategies and a schedule were developed, along with measurable goals determined by senior researchers at the Urban Institute. “This has become so much more than a park!” says Kratz. “By working early, intentionally and with the community, we aim to ensure local residents can stay and thrive in place.” To date, more than

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325 Ward 8 residents have participated in a Ward 8 Home Buyers Club, funded by BBAR, and 61 Ward 8 renters are now homeowners, building generational family wealth. In addition, BBAR recently began construction training workshops to ensure that residents can financially benefit from this new civic space.

Community Land Trust Vaughn Perry, manager of the Equitable Development Plan, has been working with partners at City First Homes and an advisory board composed of primarily Ward 8 residents to also create a Community Land Trust (CLT), a key recommendation of the Bridge Park’s Equitable Development Plan. The CLT goals are threefold: to preserve affordability, prevent displacement and empower the community for the future. The CLT owns and stewards the land, providing affordability controls by addressing income eligibility, resale prices and processes. Homeowners and renters pay a land lease fee to the CLT, which covers this stewardship and operations. By owning and controlling the land, the CLT can create both rental and for-sale properties at reduced prices, with a focus on capturing the value of public investment for long-term community benefit. By providing permanent affordability, the CLT enables long-term residents to remain in their communities and reduces absentee ownership and speculation. A critical piece of the creation of the CLT is that its board primarily consists of community leaders and residents, along with The Equitable Development Task Force developed strategies to proactively shape future growth in the communities east of the Anacostia River.

Early Wins The Bridge Park team will commence design in fall 2018, but BBAR has already managed to leverage the vision for the park to positively impact adjacent neighborhoods, particularly those east of the river. In the long, often arduous course of taking a new park from vision to reality, small and affordable, often temporary programs or installations can build community goodwill, create positive buzz and support fundraising goals, while a full park build-out is underway. These “early wins” not only enable an organization to cultivate community support and build greater trust between the public/private partnership and residents, but they also give the design team the opportunity to test out a variety of programmatic ideas to fully gauge community interest and reactions. For the past four years, BBAR, in partnership with the National Park Service and the National Cherry Blossom Festival, has held the annual Anacostia River Festival at the site of the future Bridge Park. This event has grown to more than 9,000 attendees who come to the river’s edge on its east bank to canoe/ kayak, bike, dance, eat or simply enjoy the views along the river. The festival partners with more than 60 local nonprofits, features works by local artists and hosts educational programs to engage attendees in discussion about the river’s ecology, conveying the transformative potential for this project. Other early efforts include the Bridge Park Plots program, which

The Anacostia River Festival attracts thousands of residents and visitors to the river’s edge each April.

has realized community gardens with churches, nonprofits and schools on both sides of the Anacostia River. Working with both the Kresge Foundation and the University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences, BBAR has built more than 200 raised beds and three fruit orchards. UDC has offered training courses for residents to earn an urban agriculture certificate, has launched a series of healthy cooking classes and has distributed food. This is just one example of how BBAR has leveraged the existing network of nonprofits and community organizations to test future park programs and gather lessons learned. Another exciting effort is the work with local artists whose works celebrate local culture and the river itself. During the design competition, the priority arose to more strongly connect the Bridge Park to Historic Anacostia. In 2017, BBAR installed a light installation under the I-295 highway overpass — an important achievement toward that original goal. Local photographer Bruce McNeil, who has been documenting the Anacostia River and its environment for the past 23 years, is the first artist whose work was celebrated. In addition, Tendani Mpulubusi-El, an east-of-theriver interdisciplinary artist, has also worked to realize art installations created by local high school students on both sides of the river.

Landscape as Catalyst Through the example of the 11th Street Bridge Park, it is clear that


housing professionals. Recently, board members named the trust the Douglass Community Land Trust, in honor of Frederick Douglass, and hired its first executive director.

it takes ongoing collaboration on the part of multiple stakeholders to realize a contemporary park that is responsive to both the place and the community, while acting as a catalyst for positive change. In every community, no matter how challenged environmentally, economically or socially, there are people who, when brought together as a network, have the capacity and passion to achieve successful public spaces that provide a better quality of life for all. Park planners, designers and managers must anticipate change that may not have been planned for, namely, displacement. There is no single effort that can prevent displacement, but multiple efforts involving the community and public/private partnerships must be enacted to meet this challenge, one of today’s most critical urban issues. Hallie Boyce, RLA, is a Partner at OLIN (

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By Paula M. Jacoby-Garrett


Balancing the need to connect with security concerns


e live in a time when our nation’s borders and their safety are in great debate. From those who fight for the creation of a wall to secure our southern border, to those who believe a wall isn’t the answer — the arguments are many, and the emotions are high. Along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada are parks, and, like parks across the rest of the country, they face challenges with staffing, community engagement and funding that they must work to overcome. In addition to these challenges, these parks must manage adverse activities, such as illegal border crossings and drug trafficking, that impact not only park visitation, access and security, but also the ecology.

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Some of our “cross-border challenges include creation of trails and routes, accumulation of trash and waste, and impacts stemming from interdiction and lifesaving efforts.” Some Border-Area History The continental United States hosts nearly 6,000 miles of border between Mexico and Canada. Initially, maps contained the only real demarcation of those borders. Soon, however, monuments or wire fencing would mark those boundaries, and today, walls are believed to be the most effective divide. Both borders pass through a variety of terrain, dissect-


Peace Arch Park sits on the United States–Canada border, between British Columbia and Washingston State.

ing what author Ronald Rael in his Borderwall as Architecture lists as “rivers, farms, homes, Native American lands, public lands, cultural sites, wildlife preserves, migration routes, and a university campus.” Our almost 4,000-mile border with Canada is considered the longest undefended border in the world, although it’s enforced by personnel from both countries. One of the best known and loved parks along this border is Peace Arch Park. First dedicated in 1921 to celebrate peace between the two nations, this park continues to be a symbol of collective peace between the two countries. The park’s 67-foot concrete arch, constructed to mark the centennial of the treaties that resulted from the War of 1812, sits on the international boundary between the two countries. “The Peace Arch Monument is on the National Register of Historic Places,” says Jason Snow

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of the Washington Parks. “One half of it rests in [British Columbia] Canada and the other half in the [state of Washington] United States. It’s a symbol of peace that’s inspirational to the world. There is no fence [between the countries], only signs.” “The possibility exists for illegal activity to occur anywhere along the United States’ border with Canada, and the Peace Arch State Park is no exception,” says Jason Givens, with the U.S. Border Patrol. “Illegal crossings can occur in both directions, north and south. Positive relationships with our Canadian counterparts help in the detection and apprehension of cross-border activity” and “border security includes, among other things, agents stationed in and near the park and remote video surveillance systems,” Givens adds. Peace Arch Park is a botanical attraction with formal flower beds,

Challenges at the Borders In southern Arizona along the U.S. border with Mexico is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which has some unique problems because of its location. One of the most biologically diverse areas in the Sonoran Desert, Organ Pipe has had

its share of challenges in the past few decades. A 2010 survey of the park found more than 2,500 miles of illegal roads crisscrossing this monument, which is used extensively for illegal border crossing and drug trafficking. These unlawful border crossings and the resulting roads have significantly impacted the ecology of the monument. Some of our “cross-border challenges include creation of trails and routes, accumulation of trash and waste, and impacts stemming from interdiction and lifesaving efforts,” says Frank Torres, chief of interpretation and visitor services. There’s also competition between the illegal trespassers and wildlife for natural water sources. Strategies to manage the park include agreements, mutual support, coordination and assistance with


sculpture gardens, picnic areas and a vast lawn. For Christina Alexander of the United States Canada Peace Anniversary Association, the park has special meaning. She often visited the park as a child and has fond memories of spending time there with her family. She and her volunteer team put on an annual summer Peace Arch Celebration where the public from both countries celebrate their long history of friendship. Planning has already begun on the 2021 centennial celebration.

In Mariscal Canyon (above), in Big Bend National Park, the Rio Grande separates the United States from Mexico.

other agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Land Management and other state and local agencies. In 2003, much of the park was closed to the public, a move prompted by the death of ranger Kris Eggle, who was shot and killed in the park while pursuing members of a drug cartel. At one point, visitor access to the park was limited to a mere 5 percent because of safety concerns. Today, security measures have been implemented in conjunction with multiple agencies, resulting in approximately one-third of the park now being open to visitation. For Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, no wall is needed

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— the Rio Grande is the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. The park partners on conservation efforts with the World Wildlife Fund and the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP), a Mexican federal agency that protects natural areas and manages the

Santa Elena Canyon protected area on the Mexican side of the border. The Big Bend National Park has law enforcement rangers who work closely with U.S. Border Patrol agents to ensure park safety. “This is an amazing park, with breathtaking vistas, incredible biodiversity and fantastic opportunities for rec-

reation. Its remoteness enhances the park, giving it the darkest night skies of any park in the continental U.S.,” says Jennette Jurado, public information officer for Big Bend National Park. In fact, Jurado adds: “Its location on the border gives visitors even more great opportunities, including the ability to cross through our Port of Entry to a remote village in Mexico, where local border culture and amazing food can add to your visit.”


Balancing Visitation with Security


t had been eight years since Noel had seen his parents. He came to the United States from Mexico when he was 16 years old. Today, he works as a drywaller in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a special U.S. permit. Noel is married with two young children, and he wanted his parents to see their grandchildren, whom they had never met. This past July, Noel and his family traveled from Milwaukee to Friendship Park at the California/Mexico border to meet his parents who had traveled from Guadalajara, Mexico: each traveling more than 2,000 miles. On a bright Saturday morning for four hours, they visited, each standing on their side of the fence at Friendship Park. “It looked like we were in jail with all the fencing,” Noel says. “And, it was sad that we couldn’t touch each other.” Noel, his family and his parents returned the next day for another four-hour visit, again with a fence between them. “It was so good to see them — it had been so long since we had seen each other.” Noel and his family plan to make the trek to visit each other at Friendship Park again in December.

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Along our southern border, fencing that once consisted of wire has been replaced by metal walls and concrete posts in many areas. This is the area being focused on in the nationwide discussion about creating a wall along the entire southern border. To date, almost 700 miles of completed fencing spans the 1,900 miles of border with Mexico. Nowhere else along our borders is the conflict between security and park visitors more apparent than at Friendship Park, on the Tijuana and U.S. border. Since the mid1800s, people from both countries have been meeting at this site. In 1971, First Lady Pat Nixon dedicated a park at the site as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. Today, this site is the only binational meeting place that is federally designated along the border with Mexico. Until the mid-1990s, there was no border fence at Friendship Park, and people from both countries visited each other in the park under the watchful eye of U.S. Border Patrol. In 1994, a 14-mile fence was constructed along this section of the border, creating a physical barrier between visitors, but people were still allowed to touch each

other and pass objects through the fencing. In 2009, the park was closed, a second parallel border wall was erected on the U.S. side of the existing fence, and all park visitation stopped. Three years later, the park re-opened to the public, during specific days and times, under the intense supervision of U.S. Border Patrol. Today, the park is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors should expect to show identification, and the number allowed into the park is limited by the number of Border Patrol personnel supervising. Current regulations allow a maximum of 10 adults in the park at one time with a 30-minute visit time. Visitation times may be cut short, depending on the number of visitors, to give everyone access, and priority is given to people visiting family over tourists. For U.S. Border Patrol agents, balancing the security needs with the needs of visitors is complex. “Imperial Beach has a history of high illegal activity. The proximity to the public roads, beach area, ocean and weather factors all contribute to the area being used for illegal activity,” says Robert Reedy, San Diego Sector Border Community liaison agent. Reedy continues: “The challenges, as you can imagine, are security, the mix of public and illegal activity, and environmental issues as well. We get criminal activity and people taking advantage of the public access for illegal activity and [attempting] to blend in with the regular public. We do allow many different events and activities in the Circle, like border yoga, multiple


Families and visitors attending a Sunday service at Friendship Park.

music festivals, binational mass, etc., that permit more people than the minimum when asked [for] in advance: that way we can staff the appropriate amount of agents.” The community group, Friends of Friendship Park, is working hard to make changes. Its goal is to create a future where the public will have unrestricted access to the park, and visitors will be able to touch each other. The group is currently working on plans for a park redesign that will be modeled after the Peace Arch Park at the U.S.-– Canada border. We are experiencing a time like no other when our country is divided on topics like border security and immigration. Still, there is hope. Rael says, “The use of the wall as an armature for infrastructural and social improvements along the border could increase adjacent property values, as well as the quality of life on both sides of the border — a necessary step toward immigration reform,” keeping in mind that “the grander the walls, the greater our inability to discuss, negotiate and resolve common challenges or problems.”

“The use of the wall as an armature for infrastructural and social improvements along the border could increase adjacent property values, as well as the quality of life on both sides of the border.” For our border park managers, the potential for a shift in thinking and reconsideration of the role of our nation’s borders opens the possibility for change and a new way of thinking about these parks. Partnerships across the borders, like those seen at Big Bend National Park, may enable more successful conservation, protection and visitation efforts. Like our communities, each park is different and unique with both positive and negative aspects, but the underlying goal, as with all our parks, is to share these special places with the public. Paula Jacoby-Garrett is a Freelance Writer based in Las Vegas, Nevada (

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SPECTRUM Inclusion for Recreation Professionals By Becky Herz


ot that long ago, the issue of “bathroom bills” that sought to define who is allowed to use male or female restrooms and locker rooms, was hotly debated nationwide. As variances on the gender spectrum are becoming more visible in our communities and as society becomes more aware and accepting, this is an issue that park and recreation professionals are having to face. As recreation professionals, we are always looking for ways to make our parks and programs accessible and welcoming to all members of our diverse communities. So, how can we promote inclusion for participants on the gender spectrum? We can start by creating a welcoming environment for the gender nonconforming demographic through understanding, connecting, educating and policy making. As a recreation manager, who is also the mother of a 9-year-old, gender-unique child, I’ve used my personal experience to develop practices and policies that promote inclusion.

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Viewing gender as a spectrum of four separate components creates more inclusion and understanding. It Starts with Understanding Gender is defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the behavioral, cultural or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.” To better understand gender as a spectrum, one can break down gender into four areas: anatomical sex, attraction, gender identity and gender expression. This is cleverly illustrated by Sam Killermann’s

“Genderbread Person.” Notice that anatomical sex is symbolized with the private parts, sexuality with the heart, identity with the brain, and gender expression with the outside appearance. (Note: “Private parts” is the term I use here, not because I am shy about using the word “genitals,” but as a reminder that a person’s anatomy is private, and it is very inappropriate to ask a person on the gender spectrum about the nature of their private parts). Viewing gender as a spectrum of four separate components creates more inclusion and understanding. A person’s anatomical gender refers to the expression of his or her chromosomes. While XX and

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XY are by far the two most common combinations, about 1 percent of the population has atypical gender anatomy (studies report 0.5 percent–1.7 percent). A person’s sexuality refers to who a person is attracted to, both sexually and romantically. This includes heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, asexual and polyamorous among others. Gender identity refers to the gender with which a person internally identifies. People typically prefer the gender pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, and some people identify as nonbinary and prefer to use “they” as a singular pronoun. Gender expression refers to the way a person outward-

ly appears to society, including through their clothes, hair, posture, mannerisms, voice and gender-associated behaviors. Individuals who are gender nonconforming have one or more inconsistencies in these four areas of gender. This includes transgender, genderfluid, nonbinary, androgynous, gender-unique and genderqueer, to name a few, but don’t let the list of vocabulary words overwhelm you. Much of the terminology is open to personal interpretation, so your best course of action is to listen closely to how people describe themselves and then choose the same or similar respectful terminology. To embrace a basic understanding of the many types of gender nonconformity, there are just a few

facts that need to be accepted: 1. Variances on the gender spectrum are real. 2. People who express their gender differently aren’t doing so to be different — they are doing so to be themselves. 3. People who are gender nonconforming are part of our community and should be included in our programs. 4. Everyone deserves simple kindness and respect. People on the gender spectrum are a vulnerable demographic when it comes to community inclusion. They are often used to some degree of social rejection. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), 78 percent of students and 90 percent of adults report

experiencing harassment. The NTDS reports 41 percent of the transgender/gender nonconforming population has attempted suicide. This risk decreases for those who find acceptance in their home, school and community.

It’s About Connecting Understandably, individuals on the gender spectrum are likely to be hesitant about trying a new recreation program. It is the responsibility of recreation professionals to welcome and connect with people on the gender spectrum. We can incorporate some of the skills we have developed in other areas of inclusion to demonstrate that we are looking to connect with people all over the gender spectrum. For example, we can

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True community building needs to come from the entire recreation department, because lasting connections are developed through daily human interactions. include a variety of gender expressions in our activity guides and advertising materials and on our web pages. Also, we can actively get information about our programs and job openings out to the gender nonconforming community through direct marketing. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate an atmosphere of inclusion is to make your registration process welcoming. This can be done by adding a third “other” option on registration forms where participants are asked to check male or female. As earlier men-

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tioned, restrooms are another area where an atmosphere of inclusion can be demonstrated. While creating single-stall, gender-neutral restrooms in our parks and facilities takes a bit of work, it can have a major impact. Gender-neutral restrooms are the epitome of social justice, as they provided gender nonconforming individuals with the privilege most of us take for granted: using a restroom without fear of harassment.

It’s About Training True community building needs to come from the entire recreation department, because lasting connections are developed through daily human interactions. Once you put the outreach in place, staff can be taught to promote inclusion and deepen community ties. Unfortunate incidents, like the soccer game mentioned in the accompanying “It’s About Identity”

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sidebar on page 63, can be avoided by adding some simple education points to staff and coach trainings. Taking 1–2 minutes in preseason training can help prepare coaches and refs to handle sensitive situations. Create a segment of trainings that includes these five components: 1. Gender nonconforming people exist, and they are welcome to participate in our programs. 2. Players, parents and coaches are to be trusted when declaring the gender of their players and participants. 3. At a recreation level, there is no need for DNA testing or debate — all people play on the team that matches their identity. 4. Any questions or objections need to be brought through the [insert title of recreation professionals here] office, and not debated during games. 5. All program participants and community members deserve our respect. Similar educational notes can be included in trainings for afterschool and camp staff. Staff who work with children should always be on the lookout for bullying but should also be aware of the increase in statistical likelihood for those who are gender nonconforming. Encourage an open dialogue between staff and families to help navigate potential issues and challenges. Acceptance of gender inclusion can also be incorporated into your recreation programs, including preschools and youth classes. Remind staff that toys, including dress-up clothes, are not gender specific and all children should feel comfortable experimenting with a variety. Even your customer service team will benefit

It’s About Identity

When people question why I let my daughter wear her hair so short or dress the way she does, I like to show them the pictures on the right. Then, I ask, “If she was your kid, which outfit would you buy for her?” and “Doesn’t everyone deserve to feel great about themselves like she does in the second photo?” My daughter has been showing a strong tendency toward male gender expression since she was 4 years old — this is who she is. Often, the way she looks causes people to be uncomfortable. When she walks in the women’s restroom, when she steps up to bat at a softball game, when her friends refer to her with female pronouns at the swimming pool — people are confused, and it makes them visibly uncomfortable. They mistake her for a boy every day and then feel

from gender spectrum education. Comments like, “Really? That kid is a girl?” are more common, and more hurtful, than one might think. Remember, it is never OK to ask about or even allude to a person’s private parts when helping them select a program.

It’s About Policies It is always best to check with federal, state and local laws when creating policies for your agency. When it comes to gender spectrum inclusion, most protective laws are being created at the state level. Researching your state’s anti-harassment policies, department of health regulations, and fair employment and human rights laws is a great start. The federal government does have a few protections in place: federal employers and contractors are prohibited from discrimination based on gender identity (Execu

awkward about it. Once they get past their initial confusion about her appearance, they often find her to be athletic, funny, smart, tenacious and a loyal friend. Still, as a gender nonconforming child, she is in a group that is at a high risk of bullying, discrimination, depression and suicide. Last spring, I was coaching a soccer game for my daughter’s team. The referee stopped the game and demanded that my daughter be removed from the field, because she was obviously a “boy.” I insisted the game continue with my daughter on the field, but this incident caused much commotion. Things got complicated at the game and with the clubs and league afterwards. Also, my daughter was humiliated in an environment where she had previously found emotional safety. As I worked through the incident with

tive Orders 13087 and 13672), and many courts have been ruling that gender nonconforming people are protected by federal sex discrimination laws. Once you have a scope of the legal requirements, create policies that meet or exceed the protections needed to include everyone on the gender spectrum. Consider adding the following: 1. Anti-discrimination language to your hiring policy to protect gender identity and expression 2. Allowance for sports participants to play on the team with which they identify 3. Allowances for patrons to use the restroom and locker rooms where they feel safest 4. Anti-bullying policies and behavior requirements in your youth programs 5. Find company health insurers that are inclusive and cover transition care for transgender

the soccer club managers and coordinators, I became aware of the challenges that many of us in recreation have been, or soon would be, facing. Programs run by volunteers and staff who are not up-to-date on gender spectrum inclusion are at risk of accidently ostracizing community members. So, I began to investigate ways to bridge the information gap and promote inclusion for my gender-unique child and other gender nonconforming people like her.

employees. Healthcare providers are prohibited from blanket transgender exclusions, but actual services can vary based on provider and state. Inclusion is an ongoing mission. Recreation professionals play a key role in cultivating a positive environment for community development. You don’t need to be an expert, parent a soccer-playing tomboy, or even know all the latest nonbinary vocabulary words to promote acceptance. A basic understanding of the gender nonconforming population should provide a good foundation to create outreach, training and policies for your agency. Detailed references for this article are available at www.parksandrecre trum-inclusion-for-recreation-profes sionals. Becky Herz is the Senior Recreation Services Manager for Sunrise Recreation & Park District (

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NRPA UPDATE Call for 2019 Conference Session Proposals An opportunity to expand your professional circle By Katrina Coots Ward


e…No way!” That was my first thought after learning that a session proposal I’d submitted for a conference had been accepted. That was almost 17 years ago, while I was a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi. I was reading a bulletin board posting for presenters who could speak about college decisions and learning how to live away from one’s parents. At the time, I was a potential target audience for this post: a happily married 21-year-old student, mother to an infant and a McNair Scholar who was maintaining a 3.6 GPA and holding down three part-time jobs. Lost in thought, I hadn’t noticed that my professor had walked up and had seen me pondering this post. He challenged me: “Why not?” he asked. He went on to say that my story was the “real story” and could encourage others who may be thinking they couldn’t do it all. It was the moment I realized I had a story to tell that could benefit others and jumped-started the value that I saw in myself as a presenter. I now have done more than 20

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professional presentations at a variety of levels: city, parish and state levels and once at what was then referred to as NRPA Congress. When you submit a session proposal for a conference, you are not only representing yourself, your family, your university, the organization that you work for, but also every other person in your professional career path. It’s not just those in the vicinity around you. It’s including those who have encountered you once or maybe several times on your career path. Being a speaker at any conference requires lots of time and preparation. I am now in the 14th year at my current job, and the best advice I can give to anyone thinking about presenting at a conference is to just tell your story. Whatever the topic may be, you are the storyteller. Keep in

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mind that your goal is for everyone to leave your session with some information that either offers them new insight or will help them do their job better. Also, remember to practice when preparing your presentation. Enlist co-workers, family and/or friends to listen to and offer feedback about your presentation. Lastly, presenting at conference is the easiest way to get your name out there and expand your professional circle. Part of being successful in your career is being known and respected by your colleagues — networking and communicating through conference platforms is a true definition of a win-win situation. So, consider being a part of advancing our field. NRPA and the NRPA Annual Conference Program Committee invites all interested speakers to submit education session proposals for the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference. We are seeking energetic and engaging speakers and leaders who can share knowledge, experience and best-practice techniques related to the work of parks and recreation. On Monday, October 29, 2018, we will begin accepting session proposals at posals for the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference, which will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, September 24–26. Katrina Coots Ward is the Assistant Department Director of Recreation for East Baton Rouge Recreation & Park Commission (

YOUR IDEAS ARE WORTH SHARING Submit your education session proposals for the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.


Submit your session proposals by November 30, 2018 for the chance to win a free full-package registration to the conference.

For more information, visit or contact


You WERE Yeti!


hank you to everyone who visited their local parks last month and took the Search for SMALLFOOT Scavenger Hunt Challenge! In celebration of Warner Bros. new film, “SMALLFOOT,” we asked you to go to your favorite local park to find and take photos of four things: something that starts with “s,” something small, something with feet, and something new that you discovered! We loved seeing everyone rise to the challenge and search for the elusive SMALLFOOT — it’s no easy task! Sure, there was an amazing prize at stake, but even better, this

sweepstakes got people out to their local parks and discovering new things! Speaking of prizes, Melissa Shaw of Colbrook, New Hampshire, was selected as the grand-prize winner of the “Search for SMALLFOOT Scavenger Hunt Challenge!” Shaw, the recreation director for the Colbrook Recreation Department, has won a hometown screening of the film for herself and up to 99 of her closest friends and family! Con-

gratulations to Melissa, and to all of her lucky friends and family in the town of Colbrook who she chooses to invite to the screening! “SMALLFOOT” is a family-friendly film about friendship, courage and the joy of discovery. We know you need something fun and silly to help you shake the postNRPA Annual Conference blues, and you’re in luck — “SMALLFOOT” is in theaters now!

Great Urban Parks Campaign Grantees Announced



s part of the Great Urban Parks Campaign, NRPA has provided a total of $2 million to 10 agencies to help them implement green stormwater infrastructure projects. This is the second round of funding provided through the campaign — the first round funded four projects in 2016. The new grantees include: • Bernalillo County (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

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• City of El Paso (El Paso, Texas) • City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department (Grand Rapids, Michigan) • City of Lake Charles (Lake Charles, Louisiana) • City of Memphis Parks and Neighborhoods Division (Memphis, Tennessee) • Heartland Conservation Alliance (Kansas City, Missouri) • Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department (Miami, Florida) • Local Government Commission (Salinas, California) • Louisville Parks and Recreation (Louisville, Kentucky) • New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Brooklyn, New York) Baltimore’s Ambrose Kennedy park after Great Urban Park Campaign project improvements.

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The Great Urban Parks Campaign is NRPA’s initiative to bring green stormwater infrastructure projects to parks, with the goal of addressing equity. The campaign specifically highlights the co-benefits these projects bring to communities, including improved community health, access to green space and nature, and opportunities for education and employment. For the co-benefits of green stormwater infrastructure to be realized, these projects must be supported, and, ideally, driven by the community. Meaningful, early and prolonged community engagement and a collaborative approach are essential to creating parks that are embraced by nearby residents and contribute to the well-being of the communities they serve. These grants will support community-driven green stormwater infrastructure projects over two years.

10-Minute Walk Learning Series


he 10-Minute Walk Campaign ( celebrates its first year this month on October 10 at 10:10 a.m., and we have a lot to celebrate! More than 220 mayors have signed on to the campaign, we’ve provided $480,000 in planning grants and technical assistance to 12 cities, our second application is now open to fund 10 more cities, and we have developed a learning series to help professionals advance equitable park access and quality in their cities. We’ve also created a space — the 10-Minute Walk Learning Series ( p a r t n e r s h i p s / i n i t i a t ive s / 1 0 minute-walk/10-minute-walklearning-series/) — where you can connect with your peers about what it takes to achieve equitable access to quality parks. Over the next three years, NRPA will publish educational resources (videos, blog posts, articles, etc.) on many equitable-access topics and

hold live Q&A sessions for park professionals to engage with peers and learn about replicable models and best practices. So far, we’ve focused on two topics and had speakers from park and recreation agencies, private development firms, landscape architects and non-profit partners, offering unique perspectives on the issues you face while advancing equitable park access and quality. The 10-Minute Walk Learning

Series will cover topics, including: • Partnerships and Coalition Building • Equity in Parks and Recreation • Community Engagement • Park Planning • Policy Development • Park Funding for maintenance, operations, capital improvements • And much, much more! Visit to learn how you can get involved and explore our resources, or contact us at for more information.

Agency Performance Survey Now Open


he 2018 Agency Performance Survey (www. is now open for you to input your NRPA Park Metrics data. The process has been streamlined to help you quickly update and easily keep your Park Metrics profile up to date. When you add your agency’s data to NRPA Park Metrics, it becomes part of the most robust park and recreation agency performance database for our nation, allowing your agency and its peers to identify best practices and make informed strategic decisions for years to come. While benchmark data cannot, in and of itself, give you all the answers to the issues that may be vexing

your agency, it does provide an information base from which you can make educated decisions. Use this data with your leadership, staff, external consultants



and key stakeholders as you guide your agency into the future. If your agency has not completed an Agency Performance Survey in recent years, it’ll take roughly 20 to 30 minutes to enter your data. Agencies that have entered their data in recent years can update their 2018 NRPA Park Metrics data in just a matter of minutes. The online survey form allows you to “push” prior year’s data into the current year’s form. After transferring this data, all you need to update are a few figures for the current fiscal year and you are done. Regardless of your agency’s level of participation with NRPA Park Metrics, we encourage you to view the findings within the 2018 Agency Performance Review (www.nrpa. org/Metrics).

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Meet the New NRPA Equity Advisory Panel By Jennifer Cox


RPA’s Equity Advisory Panel provides feedback and subject-matter expertise to inform the strategic direction of all NRPA’s programs and initiatives. The panel will serve as a sounding board for new ideas and practices that help ensure equity remains a core theme of NRPA’s work.

Ronda Chapman

Executive Director, Groundwork DC & Principal, RLC Consulting Chapman strives to incorporate elements, such as restorative justice, nutrition and mindfulness, into community well-being. Over the past 30 years, she has managed sustainability programs for municipal governments, trained green organizations on diversifying the environmental movement and advised a range of agencies on racial equity and community engagement. In 2018, Chapman founded RLC Consulting, which focuses on facilitating organizational change efforts that enhance meaningful equity and inclusion best practices, diversification of staff and community engagement. 68 Parks & Recreation

Stephanie Gidigbi

Director of Policy & Partnership, Healthy People Thriving Communities, Natural Resources Defense Council Gidigbi leads the NRDC’s infrastructure portfolio and supports the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), a $90 million initiative, advancing equitable infrastructure investment. She served as a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Transportation for President Obama, advancing the administration’s economic opportunity agenda and brings more than a decade of international, federal, state and local government experience to NRDC’s Urban Solutions team.

American communities, about the importance of water safety and education. She has also grown the Recreation and Nutrition program, from serving ess than 4,000 meals per summer to serving almost 10,000 meals.

Pamela Linn, FASLA PLA

Landscape Architect, Milwaukee Public Schools Department of Recreation and Community Services Linn is dedicated to addressing social equity and resilience through design. She believes community engagement is critical to successful, equitable park planning and includes neighbors and stakeholders in decision making and implementation of projects that affect their neighborhoods. Over her more than 20 years of experience in public practice, she has earned numerous awards.

Candice Holbrook, CPRP

Recreation Program Manager, Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Department Holbrook manages Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Department’s Center of Recreation & Education, which houses the Senior and Youth Center. She is currently pursuing water safety efforts in collaboration with the Greater Burlington YMCA to help educate everyone, including New

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Hannah Malvin

Senior Representative for Partnerships, People Outdoors, The Wilderness Society Malvin focuses on connecting Americans with public lands by reducing barriers to access, support-

ing grassroots leaders focused on diversity outside and expanding the narrative of who belongs outside. She is also the founder and director of Pride Outside, which is dedicated to connecting the LGBTQ community around the outdoors.

Michael Meit

ter quality and alcohol control. Before joining ChangeLab Solutions, he developed regional cooperative agreements in the Greater Boston Region with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and represented several Massachusetts communities as a municipal attorney.

Anita O’Brien, M.A., CTRS

Co-Director, NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis Meit has more than 20 years of experience in public health systems and rural health, including work at the state, national and community levels. He is a current member of the Maryland Rural Health Association board of directors, served as the founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Rural Health Practice in rural Bradford, Pennsylvania, and has served on the National Advisory Committee for Rural Health and Human Services and the board of directors for the National Rural Health Association.

Executive Director, Rochester Accessible Adventures O’Brien has 22 years of experience in providing adaptive and inclusive recreation opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In 2015, she formed Rochester Accessible Adventures (RAA) in response to the community’s need for sustainable inclusive recreation opportunities. RAA’s Community Health Inclusion (CHI) initiatives transform community recreation businesses and municipalities to include people with disabilities.

Gregory Miao

Jacqueline Patterson

Staff Attorney, ChangeLab Solutions Miao works on issues related to active living, zoning, healthy housing, parks, sugary drinks, tax policy, wa

worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, advocate and activist on women’s rights and on violence against women, HIV and AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, emergency response, and environmental and climate justice. Patterson currently serves on the Steering Committee for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, Advisory Board for Center for Earth Ethics, as well as on several boards of directors, including the Institute of the Black World and the National Black Workers Center.

Director of Environmental and Climate Justice Program, NAACP Since 2007, Patterson has served as coordinator and co-founder of Women of Color United. She has

Dr. Rafael Payan

General Manager, Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District Dr. Payan has worked on numerous inclusionary projects and programs at the federal, tribal, state and local levels. These include development of interpretive exhibits to benefit the Grand Canyon National Park’s blind and sighted visitors; having visiting nurses, dentists and physicians conduct programs like “A Walk with a Doc” or workshops at recreation centers; making natural resource areas along California’s Central Coast universally accessible; building recreation facilities and providing training opportunities on Native American reservations; and, developing field-trip transportation grants so children of inland farm workers can have access to California’s magnificent beaches and redwood forests.

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Alliance for Youth Sports and was awarded the Distinguished Professional Award for the 4th District of the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association.

Ian Proud

Research and Inclusive Play Manager, Playworld Systems Proud has helped lead nonprofit organizations for 30 years, with a specific interest in change management and adding value as the community around them evolves. He began Playworld System’s inclusive play initiative, culminating in the Inclusive Play Design Guide, a manufacturer-neutral inspirational and educational resource to get everyone, regardless of ability, playing on the playground. Proud championed the development of the nation’s first electronic outdoor play product and led the creation of a leading outdoor exercise product line for seniors.

Koboi Simpson

Athletics Administrator, Clayton County Parks & Recreation Department Simpson manages youth sports operations and supervises Clayton county’s college internship program. In addition to athletics, he is a tireless advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. Simpson is a Certified Youth Sports administrator with the National 70

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Som Subedi

Parks for New Portlanders Engagement Coordinator, Portland Parks & Recreation Subedi was one of around 100,000 victims of The Kingdom of Bhutan’s “One Nation, One People” policy, which expelled his family from their homeland. Since then, he has worked as a refugee case manager, helping new refugee families from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe integrate into Portland’s neighborhoods, schools and social service networks. He founded a strategy and practice of utilizing soccer to bring foreign-born families and the city of Portland together, through an annual Portland World Cup Soccer program and other culturally specific recreational, educational and occupational opportunities.

Nonet Sykes

Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Sykes, who serves on the NRPA

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Board of Directors and the board of advisors for National League of Cities’ Race, Equity and Leadership Initiative, provides cooperative leadership, management and strategic planning to ensure equity and inclusion for all efforts. She also helps to formulate policies that address health and sustainability in communities, innovation in community outreach and communication, displacement mitigation and long-term affordable housing efforts. Previously, she worked at the Annie E. Casey Foundation as the director of racial equity and inclusion.

Dr. Billy Willis

Director, Tunica Parks & Recreation Department Dr. Willis has developed a diversified department through which he envisions building healthy minds, bodies and spirits for the citizens of Tunica County, Mississippi. He also serves at the chairman for the American Heart Association – Multicultural Leadership Committee Social Determinants of Health Taskforce, which focuses on implementing health and wellness programs to help build a culture of health throughout the Mississippi Delta. — Jennifer Cox, NRPA Program Specialist

Congratulations to the 2018 Gold Medal Award Winners


or demonstrating excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, programming and professional development, and innovation, we congratulate the following agencies, the recipients of the 2018 Gold Medal Award Grand Plaque: • Class I (pop. 400,001 and over): Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Florida

• Class II (pop. 150,001 – 400,000): City of Arlington Parks and Recreation Department, Texas • Class III (pop. 75,001 – 150,000): City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation, Indiana • Class IV (pop. 30,001 – 75,000): Town of Castle Rock Parks and Recreation Department, Colorado • Class V (pop. 30,000 or fewer): Homewood-Flossmoor Park District, Illinois

• Armed Forces Recreation: NAS Pensacola Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Florida The Gold Medal Awards are presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, and proudly sponsored by Musco Lighting. It’s never too early to start pulling the information that’s needed to apply to be considered for the 2019 Gold Medal Awards. All the resources and information you need can be found at or by contacting us at gold

Announcing the Newly Accredited and Reaccredited CAPRA Agencies


RPA and the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) are proud to announce the accreditation of 11 agencies and reaccreditation of 22 agencies. This distinguished accomplishment was awarded during the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. CAPRA accreditation is the only national accreditation for park and recreation agencies and is a measure of an agency’s overall quality of operation, management and service to the community. This mark of distinction indicates that an agency has met rigorous standards related to the management and administration of lands, facilities, resources, programs, safety and services. Congratulations to the following agencies: For more information about CAPRA accreditation, visit www.

Newly Accredited Agencies

• Arizona State Parks & Trails, Arizona • Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Department, Virginia • El Paso Parks and Recreation, Texas • Fort Sill Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Oklahoma • Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, Florida • Schaumburg Park District, Illinois • Shawnee County Parks + Recreation, Kansas • Spartanburg County Parks Department, South Carolina • Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee • Town of Parker Parks, Recreation and Open Space, Colorado • Wake Forest Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Department, North Carolina

Reaccredited Agencies

• Bismarck Parks and Recreation District, North Dakota • Charter Township of Canton Leisure Services Department, Michigan • City of Durham Parks and Recreation Department, North Carolina • City of Eau Claire Parks, Recreation and Forestry, Wisconsin

• City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, Florida • City of Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, Arizona • City of Waukesha Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department, Wisconsin • City of Woodstock Parks and Recreation Department, Georgia • Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio • DC Department of Parks and Recreation, Washington, D.C. • Fairfax County Park Authority, Virginia • Hoffman Estates Park District, Illinois • Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation, Missouri • Metroparks Toledo, Ohio • New London Recreation Department, Connecticut • Oak Lawn Park District, Illinois • Pearland Parks & Recreation, Texas • Roanoke Parks and Recreation, Virginia • Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department, Minnesota • South Bend Venues Parks & Arts, Indiana • The Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, New York • Town of Cary Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Department, North Carolina

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Parks & Recreation Crossword

Across 1 Official tennis brand of the USTA, 2 words 9 Street address abbr. 10 Summer top 11 ___ Kids multimedia project 12 Go see 14 Buddy 15 Support parks in elections 16 Hwy. sign abbr. 17 Eye-related 20 Murals, for example 21 Poplars with fluttering leaves 22 Hero sandwich 23 They may be first to test the water in a pool 25 City’s outskirts 28 Merit-badge wearer 29 Fresh produce events which parks can manage, ____ ____s, 2 words 33 Romantic flower 34 Relating to areas along rivers and bayous

Down 1 Outdoorsman’s love 2 Sistine Chapel figure 3 Native American homes 4 Go into new areas 5 Naval rank, abbr. 6 Park supporters, for example 7 Butterflies and bees, for example 8 Tennis obstacle 13 Computer dept. 15 Roman numeral 6 18 Tries out 19 Type of environment where a species usually occurs 21 Sun Devils’ campus, abbr. 24 Area of land damaged in the past 25 Less at risk 26 Eagles, vireos, sparrows, etc. 27 Marsh plant 30 Snow runner 31 Cry of discovery 32 Decorative pond fish

Check the answers to the crossword at As an added bonus for completing the crossword, you can enter a drawing to receive a $25 gift card. The winner will be randomly selected October 31, 2018. 72

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Even though the conference is over, you can still watch 24 of the top sessions from the comfort of your home or office. You can choose from bundled sessions or pick the individual ones that fit your needs. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from top speakers without having to travel or empty your wallet.

USE PROMO CODE POSTLIVE10 TO GET 10% OFF 2018 NRPA LIVE BUNDLES.* *NRPA Live discount code can only be redeemed once and cannot be combined with any other offer. Offer valid through 10/19/18.


Hot Topics

The NRPA Annual Conference wasn’t the only place buzzing with hot topics in the field. NRPA Connect has more than 61,000 park and recreation professionals discussing the latest news. Take a sneak peek below of what is trending this month: Memorial Plaques and Gardens – Agencies are often approached with requests for memorial plaques, benches and trees in the park in dedication to loved ones. What policies and procedures do NRPA members currently have in place for their memorial areas? One idea is an entire garden dedicated as a memorial. Professional Credentials – Did you know that CPRP and CPRE are ranked first and second as the most possessed professional certifications offered by NRPA? What do you think is keeping your colleagues from earning a professional certification? Share your experience with becoming a certified professional or what is holding you back from obtaining a certification. Field Fees for Little Leagues – Do you charge Little Leagues to use your municipal fields? Do you charge a light fee or just field fees? Your colleagues are finding that their Little Leagues are saying we are charging too much for fields, so they would like to see what is being done by other agencies. Movie in the Park Screens – Movies in the park are always a popular event and a reoccurring hot topic among NRPA members. One member is looking for recommendations for screen that are sturdy but also easy to set up and take down. What type of screens does your agency use to host this popular event? Have questions about using Connect or getting started? Email Hayley Herzing at or visit https:// to join the conversation today!






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Save Hours of Administrative Time with ePACT


ny organization managing youth recreation programs processes stacks of participant paperwork every year. With an average of more than 20 minutes required per form for distribution, photocopying, collecting, filing and following up on outstanding inquiries, managing paper costs organizations hundreds of hours each year. ePACT’s centralized, cloud-based system helps staff streamline registration and information collection processes. From a single dashboard, staff can easily collect data from families, keep track of submissions and outstanding items, and easily remind parents to complete and share their ePACT record, prior to the start of programming. Families now have a secure way to share critical details, like health information and emergency contacts, and only have to fill out their ePACT record once before sharing it across registration for any program. With the ability to keep information up to date in real time, staff members can be confident they have all the information they need at their fingertips. Overall, park and recreation agencies across North America enjoy increased administrative efficiencies by moving paper forms to ePACT. Staff no longer has to rely on manual systems to collect critical information and can proactively manage that information for participants. ePACT helps organizations support their members in any emergency, whether it’s a flood at the community center or a medical situation, making ePACT a key part of your safety planning. To learn more visit epact/ or call 855.773.7228, ext. 3.

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ePACT saved us 20 hours of administrative time every week at each of our eight branches! The ability to easily track submissions and send reminders throughout our busy camp season was invaluable. – Jennifer Lentz, Business Manager, YMCA of Greater Brandywine NRPA members receive a discount on ePACT’s services. Don’t miss ePACT’s free webinar, “Time Out! Let’s Talk About Sports Safety”(https://learning., Monday October 15, where we uncover the impact your dayto-day processes have on the well-being of your participants and common challenges that can impact safety in the event of an emergency.

Member Spotlight: Patrick Marron By Vitisia Paynich


rowing up in Helena, Montana, Patrick Marron spent much of his spare time at the park across the street from his house — playing on the playground equipment and engaging in sports with his friends. As a high school student, Marron spent summer vacations as a seasonal employee for Helena Parks and Recreation, assisting the park maintenance staff by mowing lawns and trimming trees and plants. It’s a job he thoroughly enjoyed. In college, Marron earned an associate’s degree in fire science with the goal of becoming a firefighter. However, his love for the great outdoors would steer him back to parks and recreation. In 2009, he rejoined Helena Parks and Recreation as a full-time maintenance worker and gradually worked his way up to maintenance supervisor in 2016. Parks & Recreation magazine recently sat down with Marron to discuss his role at Helena Parks and Recreation, how social equity plays a part in his work and why he doesn’t see himself changing careers anytime soon.

Parks & Recreation: Tell us about your position with Helena Parks and Recreation.

Marron: As the maintenance supervisor, I’m in charge of day-to-day operations for park landscapes, hardscapes, playgrounds athletic fields and sports courts. We have a pool and a couple of buildings that we also maintain. It’s my job to make sure the crew is working safely and getting things taken care of for the public. Depending on the size of the park project, we do a lot of in-house design for irrigation, playgrounds and landscaping.

Of course, if it’s a bigger project that requires a lot of engineering, we’ll subcontract that out, but we do quite a bit of landscape design. In the past 10 years, we’ve put in a lot of playgrounds. Right now, we’re doing a big park remodel and working with user groups and outside entities on designing it.

P&R: How does social equity fit into what you do?

Marron: Anytime we put in playgrounds, buildings — anything that the public is going to have a lot of interaction with — we definitely want to make sure all groups can access them. We take into account the history of a neighborhood and what the people of that neighborhood want to see and then we tailor those amenities to each area, depending on the park and the neighborhood it’s in. For the past three years, we’ve been working on a vacant lot located in an underserved community, and we have turned it into an edible garden. We’ve had a lot of community involvement with the park’s design and maintenance, because we want those folks to be more involved and take ownership of the park. We had another unique situation here in Helena with regard to social equity. Helena had a fountain in one

of our parks that was dedicated to the city by ‘The United Daughters of the Confederacy.’ It was the Northern-most Confederate monument. The city commission decided to remove the fountain last summer because of other incidents around the country. It created some controversy, but the city was successful in removing it. Multiple groups are now working together to design a new ‘Equity Fountain’ to replace the Confederate fountain. Other Confederate monuments/statues have been removed, but this will be the first Confederate monument to be replaced with something new promoting unity.

P&R: What challenges do you face with regard to accessibility?

Marron: Everybody definitely wants more access. One challenge that we face here in Helena is we’re running out of available green space within the city limits. Our biggest need is probably more athletic fields for programs and other adult athletics. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of room for big, open fields. We also have a great trail system that people just love, but they want more access to those trails, which can create its own set of problems.

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P&R: What makes your job the most rewarding?

Marron: Of course, I love to drive by our parks and see the people out there playing and enjoying them, but I really enjoy the people I work with. Our crew is a hardworking staff, and it’s great to get everyone’s opinions and work together toward solving problems. My supervisors are also very supportive and encouraging. They’re not afraid of change, and they’re always willing to try new things — that’s something I really appreciate.

P&R: What advice would you give to others who are thinking about parks and rec as a career?

Marron: Just go for it. There are po-

sitions within parks and rec that are rewarding, fun jobs. The industry is always changing, so it’s never boring. People get off work and then they go to the park, but we get to spend all day there and get paid for it. I love seeing the kids and seniors using the park, and it’s really rewarding to see the people out there enjoying your work.

P&R: In your opinion, how do parks benefit a community?

Marron: There are a lot of benefits from parks. I believe the biggest benefit I see in our area is getting people outside. Montanans love to recreate, especially when it comes to our mountains, rivers and lakes. Here, there are tons of recreational

opportunities, which can, sometimes, make it a challenge for a park department to compete. But, we provide safe, accessible areas for people year-round. We have a lot of cold, snowy, long winters and it’s important for us to provide areas for people to get out and use during that time of the year. And then in the summer, instead of driving to the mountains or the lakes, we provide recreational opportunities closer to home for people who don’t have the time or money to travel. What’s more, we have a great trail system right in our backyard, along with swimming opportunities and other programs right here in town. — Vitisia Paynich, Freelance Writer for Parks & Recreation magazine


Learn the skills necessary to be a great leader, with the flexibility of easy-to-manage online courses. NRPA’s Leadership Certificate navigates through the latest in leadership principles, including four courses on Strategic Thinking, Human Capital Management, Operational Leadership, and Diversity and Cultural Awareness. Whether you come from a large or small agency, the NRPA Leadership Certificate will prepare you to handle any decision that comes your way.


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NRPA is dedicated to providing learning opportunities to advance the development of best practices and resources that make parks and recreation indispensable elements of American communities. Find out more at

SCHOOLS AND CONFERENCES MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS CERTIFICATE NRPA is proud to announce the launch of the new MARKETING AND Marking and Communications Cer- COMMUNICATIONS CERTIFICATE tificate. Following the successful launch during an on-ground pre-conference event, the online courses are now ready and taking registrations. The Marketing and Communications Certificate is designed to prepare the park and recreation professional to assess marketing needs, develop and implement a marketing strategy, and evaluate marketing results for future programming and marking efforts. The courses guide participants through case studies and a workbook, allowing for practical take-aways to bring back to your agency. Register now at https://learning.!

November 4-8, 2018 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia

January 13-18, 2019 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia

January 27February 1, 2019 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia

March 10-15, 2019 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia

August 25-30, 2019, Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook, Illinois

September 24-26, Baltimore, Maryland


3-5 5-7 5-7

Indio, California Bolingbrook, Illinois Spokane, Washington Clark, New Jersey New City, New York Lexington, South Carolina North Kansas City, Missouri Statesville, North Carolina North Salt Lake, Utah San Angelo, Texas Tampa, Florida South Portland, Maine Bremerton, Washington Sacramento, California Langhorne, Pennsylvania Albuquerque, New Mexico San Jose, California



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AFOI WORKSHOP The Aquatic Facility Operator Instructor Workshop is an exclusive professional development opportunity designed to prepare new instructors to teach the AFO certification course. October 21-22 Las Vegas, Nevada

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OPERATIONS Grounds Care Machines and Their Maintenance By Bill Frank


hen maintaining park and recreation properties, having the right equipment is key to keeping the grass pristine for visitors to enjoy. However, much like there is a wide array of property types, there are also multiple machines designed to maintain the grounds. To help navigate through all the options, following are some different types of grounds maintenance machines, the benefits of each and best practices for keeping equipment running year-round.

Types of Equipment

identify the best machine. Zero-turn radius mowers come to mind when most people think about machines designed to cut expansive areas of grass. Powerful cutting machines, zero-turns allow the operator to quickly and efficiently maneuver through broad areas of grass. They are also particularly efficient in areas with lots of objects, to mow around, such as trees and landscaping.


Understanding your needs is the first step to help ensure you are selecting the right machine for the job. What work are you trying to complete? For example, do you only want to cut grass, or are you looking to complete multiple tasks? Also, consider horsepower needs and the terrain of the property on which you will be working. All these factors will help


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For maintaining large-acreage park and recreational facilities, a popular choice is the wide-area mower. Equipped with three mower decks, wide-area mowers have a larger cutting width than other machine options, which helps to speed up the total cutting time. Front mowers are another great grounds maintenance option, as they combine maneuverability with the ability to mow lots of grass. One factor that separates front mowers from other mowers is their multi-season capabilities. They can be equipped with attachments to tackle other tasks, such as snow removal, giving owners more bang for their buck. Compact utility tractors have a reputation for being the “swiss army knife� of equipment, as these machines can be transformed, using a vast array of implements, to tackle just about any task. From mowing and aerating, to blowers, blades, backhoes and loaders, compact utility tractors are ideal because of their versatility. There are other types of equipment that might be helpful for maintenance on other areas of the property. For example, while compact utility tractors are good for sports field maintenance, specialty equipment should also be considered, so work with a dealer to discuss your needs to determine the right mix of sports turf equipment. Another important machine to consider adding to your lineup is a utility vehicle. Utility vehicles allow for easy transport of people, handheld equipment and materials

across large properties. They can be a good option for any routine cleanup, such as grounds trash collection, and can be transformed with attachments and accessories to tackle other tasks, such as spraying and seeding. Once you have selected the piece of equipment that best suits your needs, working with the dealer can help you navigate through the purchasing process and ensure you are choosing the best financing method for you.

Maintenance To minimize downtime from non-functioning equipment, each day before you start work, do a daily walkaround. Check for loose parts or worn belts that may need to be replaced and any leaks that would require immediate attention. Make sure fluids, such as oil, are at the recommended level, are clean and align with the manufacturer’s recommendation, information that can be found in your owner’s manual. Also keep an eye on the tires — especially on mowers — to ensure they are properly inflated to keep the mower level for best cut quality. Check the tire pressure and tread so you know when you need to just add air or when it’s time to replace the tires. Mower decks and blades also require special care to maintain a quality cut. Remove any dirt or debris that has built up over time to enhance proper air flow before performing maintenance. Inspect for any visible damage that may require the deck to be repaired or the blades to be replaced or sharpened. Whenever replacing or sharpening a blade, make sure it is balanced in order to maintain

a high-quality cut while minimizing vibration. In addition to the recommended types of fluid requirements, your owner’s manual also outlines the maintenance schedule for each machine. Consider working with a dealer to help with routine maintenance and keeping parts in stock. Many dealerships offer maintenance and parts packages to help streamline routine work and ensure you have the right parts when you need them. If you are financing a piece of equipment, consider streamlining costs by including parts and service in your monthly payment. If you are only using the machine seasonally, make sure it is stored properly in the offseason. Keep it in a dry, covered place. Drain the machine of fluids and give it a once over, cleaning the parts and check-

ing for any wear and tear that needs to be addressed, such as missing bolts, loose belts or dull mower blades. By preparing the machine before you store it, it will be ready to go when work starts again. When maintaining park and recreation facilities, having the right equipment is pivotal to keeping turf healthy. While there are countless options available, it is important to work with a dealer to select the right machine for the property and tasks you would like to handle. A dealer can also be a great resource for maintenance and parts, helping to make routine work easier and more streamlined. With the right machine and a plan, you will be ready to tackle any park, regardless of the size or terrain. Bill Frank is Government Business Manager for John Deere (

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The Hustler® MDV™ with patented LeveLift™ bed technology is a tough, precision-built utility vehicle that combines the industry’s most popular features with the ability to lift, lower and dump its cargo at any point along its arc of motion. Flip the switch and LeveLift brings the cargo box up, back and down, enabling you to load at ground level or at any point along the bed’s arc of motion. Once loaded, LeveLift single-handedly brings the cargo box back up and into position on the MDV. With an absolute minimum of time, effort and manpower, you and your cargo are on your way. Hustler, WWW.HUSTLERTURF.COM

Bona SuperCourt® Optum is a new one-component athletic wood floor finish with the superior features of a premium two-component product. This highly durable and environmentally safe waterborne wood floor finish is specifically formulated for professional use, providing a tough, vibrant gloss finish with good build. GREENGUARD Gold certified for indoor air quality, Bona SuperCourt Optum is currently available through 350 Diversey, Inc. distributors across North America. Bona, 303.923.6688, WWW.BONA. COM/PROFESSIONAL

Fleet Management Shield Plus™ Technology Textron Fleet Management Shield Plus technology is specifically designed for professional turf equipment and utility vehicles. Shield Plus is a web-based management solution that can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on any web-enabled device, from a mobile phone to a desktop computer. The system tracks equipment activity and location, enabling course managers to monitor their equipment and work crews in real time. Shield Plus also uses geofencing and userdefined “speed zones,” which will send you instant alerts detailing the location of equipment when exceeding speed limits or entering a protected geofence location. Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., 800.241.5855, WWW.TEXTRONGOLF.COM

Bike Racks Paris Site Furnishings presents a full range of bike racks that can keep facility exteriors tidy and accessible. Available in a multitude of sizes, styles, materials, colors and mounts so customers can choose the ideal bicycle parking for their location. These durable components can be selected as pedestal, m-style, coil, horseshoe, loop, ground loop, grid and traditional designs, and can provide years of maintenance-free functionality. Available as stand-alone items or with complementary site furnishing, such as benches, waste & recycling containers, planters, shade structures, picnic tables and more. Paris Site Furnishings’ bike racks are ideal for all types of parks and recreational or wherever bike travel is common. Paris Site Furnishings, 800.387.6318, WWW.PEML.COM

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Kay Park Recreation Co. ........................................................................ 84

BCI Burke...................................................................................................... 81

Landscape Structures, Inc...................................................................... 15

Brigadoon Fitness.............................................................................. 45, 81

Most Dependable Fountains.................................................................. C2

Bright Idea Shops..................................................................................... 82

Mitchell Rubber Products........................................................................27

Custom Canopies........................................................................................17

Nice Rink..................................................................................................... 85

Dock Blocks................................................................................................ 82

Pilot Rock/RJ Manufacturing................................................................. 35

DOGIPOT........................................................................................................ 33

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Doty & Sons................................................................................................ 82

Robertson Recreational Surfaces/Playcore...................................... C4

Dri-Dek.......................................................................................................... 83

Scoremaster Goals................................................................................... 85

ePACT Network.......................................................................................... 83

Salsbury Industries.....................................................................................9

Easi-Set Buildings..................................................................................... 83

Shade Systems..............................................................................................1

Fountain People/Water Odyssey........................................................... 21

SMALLFOOT/Warner Bros............................................................................5

Go Ape.......................................................................................................... 84

Subway........................................................................................................... 7

Gothic Arch Greenhouses....................................................................... 84

Synthetic Surfaces Inc............................................................................ 85

Greenfields Outdoor Fitness............................................................... 2, 3

Toro............................................................................................................... 25

Gyms for Dogs........................................................................................... 84

Vortex........................................................................................................... C3

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Willoughby Industries............................................................................. 85

John Deere.................................................................................................... 11

The Wood Carver, Inc./Goldenteak....................................................... 86

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Amish Country Gazebos.......................................................................... 82

(ISSN 0031-2215) is published monthly by the National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148, a service organization supported by membership dues and voluntary contributions. Copyright Š2018 by the National Recreation and Park Association. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in signed articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of NRPA. Issued to members at the annual subscription price of $30, included in dues. Subscription: $46 a year in the U.S.; $56 elsewhere. Single copy price: $7. Library rate: $58 a year in the U.S.; $68 elsewhere. Periodical postage paid at Ashburn, Virginia, and at additional mailing offices. Editorial and advertising offices at 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148. 703.858.0784. Postmaster, send address changes to Parks & Recreation, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148.


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Park Bench

People volunteer for a variety of reasons, but most agree — giving a service to an organization in need also provides a sense of purpose to those doing the work, creating a win-win opportunity. Such is the case for Grapevine Parks and Recreation in Texas. In June, the department launched its “Happy to Help Saturdays” program (, a volunteer initiative in partnership with Keep Grapevine Beautiful, a Keep Texas and Keep America Beautiful affiliate. On the fourth Saturday of the month, June–September, community members gathered at a designated park to paint, plant, pick up litter and more. Volunteers registered online or simply showed up the morning of the event. Once on-site, they received a T-shirt, instructions for the task at hand and any necessary supplies. Attendance for these events grew over time and ranged from 40 to 70 volunteers. Participants were a mix of business groups, students and interested individuals. One staff member organized each event, and experienced volunteers were selected as team leaders to act as hosts and provide safety orientation. All efforts went toward improving the appearance of the community and helping residents engage with one another while giving back. “Volunteer programs such as these are great opportunities for engaging the community in stewardship and environmental education,” says Kevin Mitchell, director of Grapevine Parks and Recreation. “When we empower volunteers to take the lead and make a difference, they feel a genuine sense of ownership over projects. We couldn’t do the work that we do without our volunteers’ help.” “Our volunteers play an invaluable part in maintaining our exemplary parks system,” adds Cindy Harris, City of Grapevine volunteer services liaison. “I enjoy working alongside folks that are passionate about preserving and improving these spaces. We look forward to increasing our growing volunteer force at Happy to Help Saturdays.” Grapevine Parks and Recreation isn’t alone in creating volunteer events. In August, NRPA announced its “Heart Your Park” day of service initiative ( heart-your-park/) to connect corporations to volunteer events in local parks across the country. By engaging volunteers in conserving and restoring public park lands, NRPA aims to provide an improved quality of life in local communities. Other agencies are offering similar programs in their communities as well. — Suzanne Nathan, NRPA’s Media Specialist

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Parks & Recreation Magazine October 2018  
Parks & Recreation Magazine October 2018