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OCTOBER 2019 W W W. N R PA . O R G


Achieving Equitable Park Access | Bringing Diversity Outdoors | A Parks for Inclusion Milestone

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contents october 2019


volume 54 | number 10 | www.parksandrecreation.org


30 Social Media Enhances Inclusivity Outdoors Paula Jacoby-Garrett

In the United States, people from diverse groups have been underrepresented in the outdoors. However, through social media that’s changing, as more and more individuals from diverse populations are sharing their stories and selfies that show they’re reclaiming that comfort level and inviting others to explore the outdoors.


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36 Improving Systems to Achieve Equitable Park Access

Rachel Banner, Jared Mummert and Cindy Mendoza

Easy access to parks is linked to increased physical activity, improved mental health and stronger community bonds. Yet, more than one- third of people do not have a safe or welcoming park within a 10-minute walk of their home. Through three case studies, we explore how communities across the country are designing and implementing plans, policies and funding opportunities to advance equitable access to parks.

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contents october




12 Research

10 Editor’s Letter

Gauging People’s Enjoyment of the Outdoors Kevin Roth, Ph.D.

14 Park Pulse

Social Equity: Forecasting for a Brighter Tomorrow Sonia Myrick

18 Advocacy

Parks and Recreation: Preferred Provider of Before- and AfterSchool Care

16 Member to Member

Land and Water Conservation Fund Reauthorization Kyle Simpson

20 Law Review

That Must Be a Fun Job Paul Gilbert

42 NRPA Update „„ Improving Community Access to Nutritional Foods 42 „„ Allen Parks and Recreation’s Growth Through CAPRA Accreditation 44 „„ Speaking Opportunities at the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference 46 „„ Member Spotlight: Rafael Payan, Ph.D. 48 „„ Connect Hot Topics 50 „„ Member Benefit: ADA Compliance 50 „„ Parks & Recreation Crossword 52 „„ Professional Development Calendar 54

ADA Claim to Allow Emotional Support Hog in Parks James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

26 Health & Wellness Parks for Inclusion Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary Maureen Acquino

28 Conservation Creating and Designing Parks with Social Equity as an Outcome Emy Brawley and Shannon Lee

Page 28

56 Operations Out with the Pool Odor: A Tale of Impactful Improvements Zach Morris

58 Products 59 Park Essentials 63 Advertiser Index 64 Park Bench


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Celebrating Inclusive Communities Lindsay Collins


Perspectives Leveling the Playing Field for Youth Sports Jack Kardys

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Leveling the Playing Field for Youth Sports Recently, the producers of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” a monthly sports journalism series, contacted NRPA for a segment, titled “The Price of Youth Sports” (https://tinyurl. com/yyzxqvm3). This segment asked the question: “Have we created a system for the haves and put participation out of reach for the have nots?” The producers featured sprawling suburban-park sports complexes with professional-grade fields and massive indoor facilities, describing a $17-billion-a-year youth sports industry, with parents paying upwards of $10,000 a year per child for the promise of success and college scholarships. But, with an 8 percent drop in child participation rates in the past decade, the sports gap is growing, especially for lower-income families in communities where parks are underfunded. In July, the Rand Corporation published research that confirms that youth from lower-income families are less likely to participate in sports. With low income defined as below $50,000 and mid/high above $50,000, only 52 percent of parents from lower-income families reported that their children in grades 6–12 participated in sports, compared with 66 percent of middle- and higher-income families. In the mid- to high-income range, 45 percent of children don’t play because of time constraints, while 24 percent of children from lowincome households have the time and are more willing but, simply, may not have the opportunity or access. The HBO segment cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as saying that less than 4 percent of schools require physical education, and those children who are lucky enough to have extracurricular sports opportunities are often discouraged from participating because they lack the competitive skills gained from the coaching elite clubs provide. Thus, the so-called “opportunity for all” is a falsehood and looks more like a broken promise.


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Nature abhors a vacuum, and where public funding for recreation is not a priority, the public-private partnership (P3) model for sports academies and complexes has begun to dominate our parklands. This relegates park agencies to being land custodians and stigmatizes the traditional volunteer nonprofit sports organizations as low-quality athletics. From our partners, park and recreation agencies must insist on their equitable distribution of athletic opportunity and reject tokenism in the form of a handful of scholarships for only the most talented children of low-income families. Rand suggests some simple solutions: Schools, community parks and sports programs, policymakers and funders can work to lower fees, share land and existing indoor and outdoor facilities, and provide equipment and transportation, thereby helping to minimize the time commitment for parents. Stakeholders can establish community collaboratives where field space and, potentially, gear and equipment can be shared. If fees are required to share fields, communities can determine whether the cost is a barrier for certain organizations and prioritize funding. With resource scarcity in play, building our youth sports and park operations around comprehensive recreation program plans and insisting that our programming partners adhere to our diversity and inclusion standards require strong park agency leadership and community commitment. A community that prioritizes equity works to ensure that all residents have access to what they need to be healthy and successful. Leveling the playing field for youth sports in park and recreation facilities is a critical ingredient for a resilient, healthy citizenry.

JACK K ARDYS Chair, NRPA Board of Directors

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

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

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

Chair-Elect Michael Kelly Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois Treasurer Jesús Aguirre, CPRE

Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle, Washington

Herman Parker

Previously with BREC Dallas, Texas

Joshua Medeiros, CPRP, AFO City of Bristol Parks & Recreation Bristol, Connecticut

Secretary Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

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

Previously with BREC Dallas, Texas

Ian Proud

President and CEO Kristine Stratton National Recreation and Park Association Ashburn, Virginia

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Abbaté Designs Portland, Oregon

Jesús Aguirre, CPRE Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle, Washington

Hayden Brooks American Realty Corporation Austin, Texas

Kong Chang City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Saint Paul, Minnesota

Kevin Coyle

Playworld Systems Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Nonet T. Sykes Atlanta Beltline, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia

Xavier D. Urrutia Alamo Colleges District San Antonio, Texas

Greg A. Weitzel, CPRP City of Las Vegas Parks and Recreation Las Vegas, Nevada

Philip Wu, M.D. Formerly of Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region Portland, Oregon

LIFE TRUSTEES Beverly D. Chrisman Lexington, South Carolina

National Wildlife Federation Reston, Virginia

Anne S. Close

Jose Felix Diaz

James H. Evans

Ballard Partners Miami, Florida

New York, New York

Victor Dover

Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Rosemary Hall Evans

Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning Miami, Florida

Earl T. Groves

Richard Gulley

Charles E. Hartsoe, Ph.D.

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

Jack Kardys J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Gastonia, North Carolina Richmond, Virginia

Harry G. Haskell, Jr. Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Kathryn A. Porter Mendham, New Jersey

Michael Kelly

Perry J. Segura

Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois

New Iberia, Louisiana

R. Dean Tice

Karen Bates Kress

Round Hill, Virginia

Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

PARKS & REC Salsbury

Eugene A. Young, CPRP

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Social Equity: Forecasting for a Brighter Tomorrow If the news was to be described in weather terms, the forecast for the end of August into September would have been pretty gloomy: the Amazon rainforest was burning and Dorian, a category 5 hurricane, decimated a sizeable portion of the Bahamas — and there’s roughly one more month of hurricane season yet to go! Into this stream of gloom came a viral video of two little boys, joyfully greeting each other on a New York City sidewalk (https://tinyurl.com/ yxoo7umq), that not only lifts our spirits but illustrates the importance of community. How awesome would it be if we regularly greeted each other with such exuberance? This year’s Social Equity issue focuses on the importance of making shared spaces welcoming and inclusive for all. In the cover story on page 30, “Social Media Enhances Inclusivity Outdoors,” we see how social media, which can quickly lift us up (like the video of the two young boys I mentioned earlier) or tear us down (like the swift backlash against a swim meet official who disqualified a young girl because of the way her team-issued uniform fit her), is being used to build diverse communities outdoors. Writer Paula Jacoby-Garrett shares the stories of people from diverse groups that have historically been underrepresented in the outdoors. “…whether you’re fat, whether you’re brown or in any way not typical, the outdoors is for everyone,” says one contributor, and through social media, more and more individuals from diverse populations are sharing their stories, and selfies, to show others like them that they too can feel at home in, and should explore the benefits of, the outdoors. In “Improving Systems to Achieve Equitable Park Access” on page 36, NRPA’s Rachel Banner and Jared Mummert, and MIG Inc.’s director of parks and recreation, Cindy Mendoza, use case studies to show how three communities across the country are designing and implementing plans, policies and funding opportunities to advance equitable access to parks. Unsurprisingly, the key to creating welcoming spaces for all is not only to involve the people for whom these spaces are being created from the very beginning of the process, but also to really listen to them. It is, as the authors conclude, our responsibility as public agencies to understand any history (ancestral as well as recent), of the people in our communities and work with them and our partners to prioritize what’s needed to provide the best health and environmental outcomes for that community. Paul Gilbert, director of NOVA Parks in Northern Virginia, touches on the variety of skills called on to create welcoming spaces in “That Must Be a Fun Job” on page 16. Park and rec professionals are uniquely qualified to help make these places special and equitable. After all, being welcoming is part of your DNA and you’re already working to make access to programs and facilities inclusive!

SONIA MYRICK Executive Editor 10

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PRESIDENT AND CEO Kristine Stratton VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLISHING, AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Gina Mullins-Cohen gcohen@nrpa.org EXECUTIVE EDITOR Sonia Myrick smyrick@nrpa.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lindsay Collins lcollins@nrpa.org EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR Suzanne Nathan snathan@nrpa.org PUBLICATION DESIGN Kim Mabon/Creative By Design CreativeByDesign.net SENIOR SALES MANAGER EASTERN REGION AND EUROPE Kip Ongstad 703.858.2174 kongstad@nrpa.org SENIOR SALES MANAGER WESTERN REGION AND ASIA Michelle Dellner 949.248.1057 mdellner@nrpa.org SALES COORDINATOR Meghan Fredriksen 703.858.2190 mfredriksen@nrpa.org PHOTOGRAPHY Dreamstime.com or NRPA (unless otherwise noted) MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Anthony-Paul Diaz Ryan Eaker Robert García Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert, CPRP Tim Herd, CPRE Brian Johnson, CPSI Roslyn Johnson, CPRP Michele Lemons Sam Mendelsohn Maria Nardi Lisa Paradis, CPRP Paula Sliefert Shonnda Smith, CPRP, AFO Anne-Marie Spencer Stephen Springs

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RESEARCH Gauging People’s Enjoyment of the Outdoors By Kevin Roth, Ph.D.


ach year, the NRPA Research team surveys 1,000 U.S. adults to better understand the frequency and ways that they interact with parks and recreation. We take the results from that survey to create the Engagement with Parks Report, providing park and recreation professionals, policymakers and other key stakeholders with insights on the importance of local park and recreation facilities in the lives of every resident of our nation. The 2019 edition of the study highlights continued strong, unwavering support for the mission of parks and recreation, as defined by NRPA’s Three Pillars. Nearly equal shares of survey respondents view each pillar as “extremely” or “very” important guiding principles for their local park and recreation agency: • Health & Wellness (75 percent)

2x per


People who agree that parks and recreation is an important local government service

People visit their local park and recreation facilities twice a month on average

93% 88%

People who agree local parks and recreation provide good opportunities to interact with nature and the outdoors




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9in 10

People who believe it is important to protect natural resources with parks, trails and green spaces

People who consider high-quality park and recreation amenities important factors when choosing a place to live

• Social Equity (74 percent) • Conservation (73 percent) This support holds firm across nearly every segment of the U.S. population, including by age, gender, race and ethnicity, income and political affiliation.

Key Factors People recognize and appreciate the positive impact of parks and recreation on their communities. Nine in 10 survey respondents agree that parks and recreation is an important local government service. The value people place on parks and recreation closely mirrors that for many other local government services, nearly matching that for public safety, utilities, transportation and education. The nearby access to highquality park and recreation amenities and programming plays a central role in finding a home. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents indicate that having a nearby park, playground, open space or recreation center is an important factor in deciding where they want to live. This includes nearly 3 in 5 who report that nearby high-quality park and recreation choices play a “very important” or “extremely import-

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ant” role in where they choose to reside. Easy access to high-quality park and recreation opportunities is an important factor for all segments of the U.S. population, but is particularly influential for millennials, Gen Xers, people who identify as Hispanic and parents. Each year, we include questions in the Engagement with Parks Survey tied to a specific theme. This year’s questions focused on people’s enjoyment of the outdoors. Parks, trails and other natural amenities connect people to nature and provide a much-needed respite from our ever-connected lifestyles. Each also improves the physical and mental health of their visitors. Local park and recreation agencies manage millions of acres of open space across the United States — from parks and sprawling trail networks, to beaches and other waterways.

Outdoor Recreation Preferences Survey participants identified a number of desired outdoor recreation options for their community, including: • Access to a secluded, outdoor, quiet place where they can relax and reflect (87 percent) • Places that provide a scenic view of the nature around them (85 percent) • Nearby access to lakes, ponds, rivers and other water bodies to take a swim, go fishing or for boating (85 percent) • Nearby trail networks for walk-

ing, running, hiking and biking (82 percent) • Local amenities that provide the opportunity to observe wildlife (e.g., birdwatching) (81 percent) • Nearby campsites and campgrounds (70 percent) People largely agree that their local park and recreation agency does a good job providing their community with many opportunities to interact with nature and the outdoors. However, many also seek more nearby outdoor recreation options. Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. residents indicate that their “local park and recreation agency does a good job providing outdoor recreation opportunities,” including 57 percent of survey respondents either agreeing “completely” or “very much” with this sentiment. However, 31 percent of survey respondents only “somewhat” agree that their local park and recreation agency is doing a good job. Further, 11 percent of survey respondents disagree with this sentiment. The survey also finds widespread agreement among the general public for their local government to prioritize protecting natural resources — including fresh air, clean water and unpolluted green spaces. Specifically, 93 percent of survey respondents indicate it is critical that their local government develops local parks, trails and green spaces near bodies of water for the purpose of protecting natural resources in their community. The support for ongoing investment in public open spaces spans virtually every demographic group of U.S. residents. Perhaps most notably, the robust support for such investment also crosses the polit

ical spectrum, with 95 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans agreeing with this view.

Additional Analysis This column merely scratches the surface by highlighting the many takeaways from the 2019 Engagement with Parks Report (www. nrpa.org/engagement). The report also notes how frequently the public visits their local park and recreation amenities (on average twice a month), the top reasons for visiting a park (to be with friends/family, to be physically active and to be closer to nature) and the percentage of the public that says at least one park or recreation amenity is walkable from their home (7 in 10).

The 2019 Engagement with Parks Report makes clear this point: People highly value the work that park and recreation agencies deliver to their local communities every day and strongly support their mission. The public’s strong and broad-based support for parks and recreation solidifies any case being made to local political leaders, stakeholders and the media for greater, more stable funding. I encourage you to combine the insights from this report and those from our monthly NRPA Park Pulse polls with information about your agency to tell the full park and recreation story to your community. Kevin Roth, Ph.D., is NRPA’s Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology (kroth@nrpa.org).

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Parks and Recreation: Preferred Provider of Before- and After-School Care


of adults believe it’s important for park and recreation agencies to provide affordable beforeand after-school care to children and young adults.

These services include tutoring and homework help, fitness and play opportunities, and the availability of healthy snacks.

Regardless of income, age, education or having children in the household, people agree, providing affordable before- and after-school care for our nation’s youth is important!

Each month, through a poll of 1,000 U.S. residents focused on park and recreation issues, NRPA Park Pulse helps tell the park and recreation story. Questions span from the serious to the more lighthearted. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com).

Visit nrpa.org/park-pulse for more information.

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MEMBER TO MEMBER That Must Be a Fun Job By Paul Gilbert [Editor’s Note: Following is an excerpt of an article about the process of rebuilding the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, Virginia. To read the entire article, go online to www.nrpa.org/parks-recre ation-magazine/2019/October/that-must-be-a-fun-job.]


Those who work in the field of parks and recreation often hear some version of the same comment when talking with others about their career. Just under the surface is the thought that such a job must be easy, usually based on people’s experiences with parks. When they are in a park, people typically are relaxed and having fun, and it may be difficult for them to understand the wide range of skills and effort that go into creating such an environment. NOVA Parks rededicated a completely rebuilt Occoquan Regional Park, which began with a 350-acre property that it leased in the late 1970s and opened in 1982. Fast forward 40 years, and this well-built park was ready to be totally reimagined. Since its rededication in June 2018, it has performed better than anticipated: The River View event venue and Brickmaker’s Café


Parks & Recreation

(housed in the Jean R. Packard Occuquan Center) were enough to cover the debt payment and turn a modest profit for the park. Reflecting on the years of effort that went into creating this space and the planning and execution of the grand opening day prompted me to think about all the elements that went into this park. Every park has a unique origin, but they all have a story that involves smart, hardworking park professionals, civic and political leaders, community groups and more. An understanding of what goes into creating these spaces provides a better appreciation not only for the park, but also for the dedicated individuals involved. Land Acquisition NOVA Parks owns more than 90 percent of its parkland but leases the Occoquan Regional Park property from The Jean R. Packard Occoquan Center at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, Virginia.

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Virginia’s Fairfax County. In 2012, the county and NOVA Parks entered a new 99-year lease, which opened the door to planning and developing a new park on the old property. Master Planning NOVA Parks brought in meeting facilitators from George Mason University’s Center for Conflict Resolution to conduct community meetings to plan the future. Their inclusion meant that during the meetings, all ideas were heard and valued. NOVA Parks identified all the stakeholder groups it could think of and invited them all to participate. Its board worked with stakeholders to prioritize the many ideas, and from multiple meetings over a six-month period emerged a vision for the park that was very different from the original park. In addition to the River View event venue and Brickmaker’s Café, elements to the new vision included a rebuilt sea wall and plaza area by the water, an enhanced trail system internal to the park that connects it to larger trail networks, a large group shelter area, preservation of historic structures, creation of a Suffragist Memorial with a local nonprofit dedicated to that cause and demonstration of environmental design. A boat ramp and kayak rentals were the only intentionally retained old-use features…. Read the article in its entirety online at www.nrpa.org/parks-recre ation-magazine/2019/October/thatmust-be-a-fun-job. Paul Gilbert is the Executive Director for Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (pgilbert@nvrpa.org).

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The Latest Park and Recreation News and Trends On the Go


Land and Water Conservation Fund Reauthorization By Kyle Simpson


f you have been an NRPA member for any length of time, you likely know that NRPA and our partners in the conservation community have long been pushing for permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The good news is that Congress passed legislation making that dream a reality. In February, Congress passed the John D. Dingell Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, which includes many provisions relating to conservation and national parks, and President Trump signed it into law. The Dingell Act also sets aside 40 percent of overall LWCF funding for the state assistance program. Permanent reauthorization of the LWCF and the language regarding the funding of the state assistance program are big wins for NRPA members, as the percentage of funds going into the state assistance program had been decreasing over time. While the 40 percent is not binding (the Dingell Act did not provide mandatory fund-


Parks & Recreation

ing for the program), we hope the authorizing language that spells out the percentage will hold Congress accountable to that agreement.

Funding Disparities Although we celebrate these important wins, the reality is that our efforts to fortify LWCF are far from over. The fund receives about $900 million in revenue annually (from oil and gas leases), but $900 million does not go

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toward conservation efforts. Each year, Congress specifies how much of that $900 million can be spent on LWCF projects, and, each year, Congress has significantly shortchanged the program. If all the money available for LWCF since 1965 had been disbursed, slightly less than $40.9 billion would have been spent on conservation projects across the country. Instead, Congress has provided less than half of the funds — only $18.9 billion — and the remaining $22 billion has gone back into the federal treasury for non-conservation project spending. When Congress passed the law in 1965, its intent was that money collected in the fund be used for conservation efforts. This, however, is no longer the case, and with a large backlog of projects at the local, state and federal level, the money deposited into the account needs to be used for its intended purpose. Now that the program is permanently reauthorized, we can shift our attention to

ensuring that each year conservation efforts receive all the funds collected. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) have introduced legislation that would ensure full, dedicated funding for LWCF. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, S. 1081, would require that each year LWCF receive the money going into the fund, thereby preventing Congress from skimming off a portion of the money for other uses. This would mean that if the fund collects $900 million, that amount would be spent on conservation projects during that fiscal year. This bipartisan legislation currently has 48 cosponsors, nearly half the United States Senate.

In the House of Representatives, Reps. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) have introduced identical legislation, H.R. 3195, that is similarly bipartisan and has 188 cosponsors. The House Committee on Natural Resources — chaired by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who supports the legislation — has already passed the legislation out of its committee. While we are unsure on timing, we expect the full House to consider the legislation during this Congress.

The Road Ahead The fight over permanent funding won’t be quick and easy, but there are important steps your agency can take to help gain more support for the legislation. This fall is a

Encourage teamwork & social interactions with

great time to share with your members of Congress how important LWCF is to your agency and that you would like to see mandatory funding for the program. We make it simple! Just visit www.nrpa.org/ advocacy and select “take action.” This is also a great time to invite your members of Congress to visit an LWCF site in your community to thank them for voting for permanent reauthorization, while encouraging them to support dedicated funding. The “Park Champion” link at www.nrpa.org/advo cacy makes inviting them easy, but your NRPA Public Policy team is always here to help as well. Kyle Simpson is NRPA’s Senior Government Affairs Manager (ksimpson@nrpa.org).



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ADA Claim to Allow Emotional Support Hog in Parks By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.


any legal problems start out as public relations problems. While certainly challenging, accommodation, as opposed to confrontation, may be preferable to a potential costly and time-consuming lawsuit in court. In the instance described herein, an individual wanted to be accompanied by his emotional support “Hog” when he visited public parks. His request to do so, however, was denied. He also claimed he was removed from various parks on several occasions, presumably, based on existing park rules and regulations. These actions and administrative decisions gave rise to a claim in federal district court under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Allowing one allegedly disabled individual to bring his emotional support hog into a park may not necessarily pose an eminent threat to himself or other park users.

20 Parks & Recreation

In the spirit of accommodation, as opposed to confrontation, particularly in the context of the ADA, instead of asking “Why?” it may be better to ask, “Why Not?” An emotional support hog in a park may seem strange, but it may be worth a try to see if it works in a particular situation. Moreover, in the unlikely event of future litiga-

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tion, providing such an accommodation on a trial basis could put a public agency in a more favorable light, providing a reviewing federal court with a record that documents any significant problems associated with good faith efforts to allow this particular emotional support hog in the parks. Existing rules and regulations may understandably prohibit emotional support hogs, or similar large farm animals, in the parks. However, allowing one allegedly disabled individual to bring his emotional support hog into a park may not necessarily pose an eminent threat to himself or other park users. On the contrary, it may prove to be good public relations whether a federal court would ultimately

find the ADA required such an accommodation. In today’s litigious society, a satisfied resident may be preferable to a disgruntled one and potential litigant.

No Pig Park Accommodation In the case of Mayle v. Chicago Park District, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110428 (N.D. Ill. 7/2/2019), plaintiff Kenneth Mayle alleged the defendants city of Chicago and the Chicago Park District (CPD) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when he was repeatedly denied the right to bring his Guinea Hog to places of public accommodation in and around the Chicago area. These places included North Avenue Beach, Montrose Beach, Millennium Park, Grant Park and other unnamed parks maintained by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As cited by the federal district court, Title II of the ADA provides as follows: No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Plaintiff Mayle claimed he suffers from bipolar disorder. Because Mayle is allergic to dogs, he stated he depends on his Guinea Hog, Chief Wiggum, to provide service and emotional support. In particular, the Guinea Hog performs tasks, such as massage therapy on Mayle’s hands, to mitigate feelings of anxiety and depression. The Guinea Hog also encourages

Mayle to engage in physical activity. Mayle transports the Guinea Hog with a shopping cart attached to his bike. Mayle filed and litigated his ADA claim in federal district court “pro se”; that is, without the assistance of an attorney. As a rule, the federal district court indicated it would treat allegations of a pro se complaint to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. In this case, CPD argued the federal district court should summarily dismiss Mayle’s claim based on the pretrial record, because he had failed to state a claim under the ADA for the following three reasons: (1) he is not a qualified individual with a disability; (2) his Guinea Hog is not a service animal; and (3) his requested accommodation is not reasonable under the ADA. In determining whether to grant CPD’s motion for summary judgment, the court would resolve any doubt in favor of Mayle, allowing him to proceed to have his day in court. In so doing, the court would consider whether the pretrial evidence conclusively established Mayle’s failure to state a claim under the ADA.

Individual with a Disability To bring a claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must show that he or she is a qualified individual with a disability. The disability must substantially limit major life activities (42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)(A)). Federal courts consider several factors when deciding whether a disability substantially limits major life activities, including one’s ability to sleep, hear, see, walk, breath or learn (29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(i)). In

his complaint, Mayle alleged his bipolar disorder impairs his ability to breathe, concentrate and sleep. Resolving any doubt in Mayle’s favor at this very preliminary stage of the proceedings, the federal district court found this statement in the complaint was “sufficient to plead that Mayle is a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA.”

To bring a claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must show that he or she is a qualified individual with a disability. Service Animal Within the context of the ADA, Mayle claimed his Guinea Hog was a “service animal equal to dogs and miniature horses.” Accordingly, Mayle argued: “Defendants Chicago Park District’s and City of Chicago’s refusal to treat his Guinea Hog as service animal violated the ADA.” As cited by the federal district court, “Title II protects the right of a disabled individual to have a service animal in public facilities” (28 C.F.R. § 35.136(g)). Moreover, the court noted: “The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice (‘DOJ’) to promulgate regulations for the implementation of Title II.” As cited by the court, one such DOJ regulation defines service animals as follows: Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.

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The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability (28 C.F.R. § 36.104).

Under 28 C.F.R. § 36.104, the federal district court found “animals that perform only tasks that provide comfort and emotional support are not sufficient to constitute a service animal under the ADA.” While this regulation sets “the minimum requirements of what constitutes a service animal,” the court acknowledged the ADA “does not limit the kind of tasks a service animal can perform.” However, under 28 C.F.R. § 22 Parks & Recreation

36.104, the federal district court found “animals that perform only tasks that provide comfort and emotional support are not sufficient to constitute a service animal under the ADA.” Moreover, under the “other species” restriction within the regulation, the court found “a Guinea Hog is not a service animal.” Regardless of the species, the court further found Mayle had “failed to plead sufficient facts of how the Guinea Hog’s performance of such tasks assists with his disability.” While Mayle’s Guinea Hog allegedly “assists in and performs emotional support tasks,” as noted above, the court found this claim was insufficient to establish a “service animal” under the ADA regulations.

Equal Protection In his complaint, Mayle had also

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argued that the federal regulations promulgated by the DOJ, limiting service animals to dogs and miniature horses, had denied him his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. The Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment “forbids the federal government from denying equal protection of the laws.” Mayle claimed federal regulations that limited the definition of “service animals” to dogs and miniature horses effectively excluded other animals providing such service, like his Guinea Hog, which were also “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” As cited by the federal district court: “Equal protection violations can occur when regulations draw distinctions among people in a ‘suspect’ class.” Generally, a suspect class involving a classification based on race, creed, color or national origin would be subject to very demanding judicial scrutiny. According to the court, under general principles of constitutional law, “People with disabilities have not been distinguished as a suspect or a quasi-suspect class [e.g., gender].” As a result, equal protection claims brought by individuals with disabilities would be subject to a much less stringent standard of judicial review under the following “rational relationship” test: When a regulation does not involve a suspect class, a court will uphold the regulation if there is a rational relationship between the disparity of treatment and a legitimate governmental purpose. To overcome this analysis, a plaintiff

must allege facts sufficient to overcome the presumption of rationality that applies to government classification. In this instance, the federal district court noted Mayle had alleged that he was “aggressively ridiculed, harassed and heckled by patrons when he brought the Guinea Hog to public recreational services.” Further, the federal district court found the DOJ service animal regulations had identified a legitimate governmental interest in “maintaining public order and imposing limits on the types of animals allowed in public places.” According to the court: “Mayle’s own recounting of the disruption that ensued when he

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took his Guinea Hog into public parks demonstrates why the regulation is rational.” Having found a rational relationship between the limited regulatory definition of “service animals” and a legitimate governmental interest in maintaining public order in public places, the federal district court rejected Mayle’s equal protection claim.

Reasonable Accommodations

“...a requested modification would be considered “reasonable” under the ADA if an accommodation was found “necessary” for the disabled individual to “fully enjoy the services and facilities of a public entity without fundamentally altering the nature of the public services and facilities.”

In his complaint, Mayle also claimed “the denial of his Guinea Hog is a violation of the public entities’ responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities under the

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In determining whether a requested accommodation was reasonable under the ADA, the federal district court would conduct “a highly fact-specific inquiry,” which would require “balancing the needs of the parties.” ADA.” The federal district court acknowledged this allegation could provide a sufficient legal basis for Mayle to pursue in federal court because “failure to accommodate is an independent basis for liability under the ADA”: A reasonable accommodation is one that is efficacious. Public

entities are generally required to make reasonable accommodations unless making such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the entities’ goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations. Further, as noted by the court, a requested modification would be considered “reasonable” under the ADA if an accommodation was found “necessary” for the disabled individual to “fully enjoy the services and facilities of a public entity without fundamentally altering the nature of the public services and facilities.” In determining whether a requested accommodation was reasonable under the ADA, the federal district court would conduct “a highly fact-

specific inquiry,” which would require “balancing the needs of the parties.” To hold a place of public accommodation liable under the ADA, the federal district court found that a plaintiff need only show one of the following: (1) the defendant intentionally acted on the basis of the disability, (2) the defendant refused to provide a reasonable accommodation, or (3) the defendant’s rule disproportionally impacts disabled people. In this instance, the federal district court found CPD had not clearly articulated “a reason why Mayle failed to state a reasonable accommodation claim.” Instead, CPD had simply concluded “Mayle is not entitled to the Guinea Hog

Individualized Assessment Requirement In responding to accommodation requests by disabled individuals, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires an individualized decision-making process that is not based on one-size-fits-all stereotypes under applicable rules and regulations. An individualized assessment must consider what reasonable accommodations are required for an “otherwise qualified” disabled individual to have “full and equal enjoyment” of “any place of public accommodation,” including public parks. Once a disabled individual requests an accommodation, the ADA shifts the burden to the public entity to conduct the required individualized assessment and, if the request is rejected, demonstrate it would be unreasonable to grant the request. In so doing, mere safety concerns are an insufficient legal basis, under the ADA, to reject the requested accommodation. On the contrary, the public entity must demonstrate the requested accommodation is unreasonable, because it would constitute a direct threat to the disabled individual or others. A direct-threat determination must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on current medical evidence or on the best-available objective evidence to assess the following: (1) the nature, dura-

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tion and severity of the risk; (2) the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and (3) whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures will mitigate or eliminate the risk. In this instance, Chicago Park District (CPD) did not conduct an individualized assessment to establish the existence of a “direct threat” posed by Mayle’s emotional support hog in a public park. Had CPD done so, it may have been able to demonstrate the existence and severity of a direct threat based on Mayle’s own admission that he was “aggressively ridiculed, harassed and heckled by patrons when he brought the Guinea Hog to public recreational services.” In addition to a direct-threat determination, a requested accommodation could also be rejected as unreasonable if it would fundamentally alter the nature of public service. In this instance, allowing an accommodation for one emotional support hog would not fundamentally alter a public park into a de facto “farm park” or petting zoo. Moreover, granting the requested accommodation would presumably not create the type of significant financial or administrative burden on the public entity, which would also justify rejection of a request as unreasonable.

as an accommodation because it is not a service animal.” In limiting consideration of Mayle’s accommodation request to ADA regulations governing service animals, the federal district court found CPD had failed to determine whether Mayle was “entitled to a reasonable accommodation in the form of being allowed to take his Guinea Hog into the public spaces that the City and Park District administer.” Accordingly, to defeat Mayle’s ADA claim, the federal district court would require CPD to show Mayle’s requested accommodation was “unreasonable, imposes significant costs, or fundamentally alters the nature of their services.” As a result, the federal district court rejected defendants’ pretrial motion for summary judgment to effectively dismiss Mayle’s reasonable accommodation claim under the ADA.

Conclusion Having alleged a sufficient legal basis for his ADA claim, and CPD’s failure to show otherwise in responding to Mayle’s complaint, the federal district court would allow Mayle to continue to pursue his reasonable accommodation claim against CPD. In other words, in response to Mayle’s ADA claim, CPD had failed to conduct an individualized assessment to establish that Mayle’s accommodation request was, in fact, unreasonable under the circumstances. Absent an appeal and/or settlement granting Mayle a mutually agreeable accommodation, the federal district court would conduct further trial proceedings. A trial would test Mayle’s allegations that he is indeed an “other

wise qualified individual with a disability” under the ADA and, if so, whether CPD was justified in rejecting his requested accommodation as unreasonable.

James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D., is an Attorney and Associate Professor in the School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism at George Mason University (jkozlows@gmu.edu). Webpage with link to law review articles archive (1982 to present): http:// mason.gmu.edu/~jkozlows.

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Volunteers assist competitors during the 25-mile Wheelchair Races at the 2018 Pitt County Special Olympics Spring Games, coordinated by Greenville Recreation & Parks and held April 20, 2018, at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, North Carolina.


H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S

Parks for Inclusion Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary By Maureen Acquino


t’s been two years since the official launch of NRPA’s Parks for Inclusion initiative in September 2017. And now, more than ever, NRPA is dedicated to our mission that everyone, no matter race, ethnicity, income level, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or age, has access to quality park and recreation facilities and programs that meet their health and environmental needs. Through Parks for Inclusion, NRPA has accomplished a lot over the past two years, including highlighting success stories from the field, developing model inclusion policy guidance, and sharing best practices for program implementation to increase access to health and environmental benefits for our target populations: • Those with physical and cognitive disabilities • The LGBTQ+ community • Racial and ethnic minorities • Immigrants and refugees

Facing Health Disparities In the United States, significant health disparities exist for these target populations. Racial and ethnic 26 Parks & Recreation

minorities more commonly face obstacles to health and quality of life, such as poverty, lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education, housing and healthcare. Systemic practices and policies that unfairly discriminate against people of color have contributed to poorer economic and health outcomes for racial and ethnic minori-

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ties. People of color are more likely to have chronic diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and poorer mental health. Research has shown that those with physical and cognitive disabilities have significantly higher prevalence rates for most chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. People with disabilities also consistently report higher rates of obesity and smoking, and a lack of physical activity and outdoor connection. In the LGBTQ+ community, research shows that the lack of physical and social activity opportunities contributes to health disparities linked to social stigma, discrimination and denial of civil and hu-

man rights. Social discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, suicide and obesity. Immigrants and refugees report experiencing intense feelings of loss after leaving their native country and may even go through a period of cultural bereavement and distress. In addition, refugees and immigrants face barriers around job opportunities, housing, healthcare and language, making it difficult to acclimate to a new culture and life. At the beginning of this initiative, NRPA surveyed park and recreation professionals to gauge where agencies stood in relation to inclusive practices. The survey asked what was being offered in terms of inclusive access to recreational facilities, programs serving a variety of community members and where there were gaps. Nearly 500 agencies responded to the survey, which identified that while there are many positive trends around inclusion in parks and recreation, there is significant room to grow. In addition, agencies identified shared challenges around funding, staffing, facility space shortages, and a lack of staff training.

In two years since the launch of Parks for Inclusion, NRPA programs have reached 1.7 million people in our target audiences, surpassing our original goal of reaching 1 million people. NRPA is on track to reach more than 2.5 million people by 2020, gathering success stories and best practices and identifying the need for further resources along the way. policy in place and how to engage staff and the community in developing a policy. As NRPA moves into the final year of this three-year initiative, we will continue to act on our mission of ensuring that everyone has access to the benefits of parks and recreation through resource development, funding opportunities and chances to network with park and recreation peers to share best practices. If you are interested in sharing your agency’s inclusion policy, send a copy to Maureen Acquino at macquino@nrpa.org. Maureen Acquino is an NRPA Health and Wellness Program Manager (macquino@nrpa.org).

Responding Through Resources In response to these needs, NRPA created the Parks for Inclusion online database (www.nrpa.org/ourwork/partnerships/initiatives/parks-for-inclusion/ parks-for-inclusion-resources) to house resources that support inclusive practices in park and recreation agencies and within facilities. These resources, developed by NRPA, partner organizations and leaders in the field, include toolkits, assessments, online tools and case studies. For example, you’ll find Parks for Inclusion one-pagers, which are quick fact sheets about the challenges historically marginalized audiences face, how this impacts their wellbeing, and what park and rec agencies can do to promote positive health outcomes. One of the biggest needs identified in the survey was a gap in the number of park and recreation agencies that have formal inclusion policies. NRPA developed the Parks for Inclusion Best Practice Guide to Developing an Inclusive Policy (www.nrpa.org/our-work/part nerships/initiatives/parks-for-inclusion/policyguide) to address this gap. This guide and supplemental resources were designed to help agencies create and implement inclusive policies in local parks and recreation. It highlights why inclusion in parks and recreation matters, why it’s important to have a





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A community garden is part of South Atlanta’s Urban Food Forest park, which was formerly a small family farm.

Creating and Designing Parks with Social Equity as an Outcome By Emy Brawley and Shannon Lee

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. — “Make No Little Plans…” Perspectives column, October 1, 2018, by Jack Kardys By focusing on equitable development strategies that are responsive to community needs, parks can provide innovative solutions that use natural spaces to address environmental challenges. They can also provide a range of other social justice and economic benefits. In Atlanta, two recent park develop28 Parks & Recreation

ment projects are examples of community-driven design processes that have resulted in more equitable outcomes for those who live, work and play near these new green spaces.

Community-Driven Visioning

Active Playing Fields Currently under construction, the

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Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park (https://tinyurl.com/y4gz2vs2), part of NRPA’s Great Urban Parks Campaign, is located on Atlanta’s Westside in an area of the city impacted by poverty, vacancy, unemployment and heavy urban flooding. The park design was developed through a community-driven visioning process led by Park Pride and The Conservation Fund to ensure that local voices were leading the decision-making process. A typical project of this kind, with an overall goal to capture 3.5 million gallons of stormwater, might use a large detention pond. For the Johnston Park project, residents made it clear that they didn’t want another pond (several large ponds are already in the works as



Doug Hardeman, who leads the community garden beds, teaches gardening to some KIPP Vision Primary second graders during a STEM science festival at the Food Forest.

part of a nearby project) because of maintenance concerns — no one has a boat and residents are worried about litter and upkeep. Instead, the final design emphasizes active playing fields to meet local priorities around health and exercise, with stormwater storage underground and in rain gardens to add natural beauty, while also implementing green infrastructure solutions. Residents have also been employed in the construction of the park through a workforce training program and are leading its activation through a Friends of the Park group that is in development. The park will officially open fall 2019 and has strong community support and buy-in. Food Forest In South Atlanta, the city’s goal to protect tree canopy and increase access to healthy food created an opportunity for a new kind of park on a wooded 7.1-acre site — a park where the community could harvest food! Through the 1990s, it was a small farm, owned by the Morgan family, which was known for sharing extra produce with its neighbors. It also provided local access to fresh produce in a community that lacked nearby grocery stores. When the Morgan family passed, the property remained vacant for more than a decade and then was slated to be cleared and transformed into a townhome community. Fortunately, The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the city of Atlanta and the U.S. Forest Service, was able to purchase the land and save the forest. Atlanta is known as the “City in a Forest,” and, normally, this type of conservation project would

have only been focused on protecting the city’s critically important tree canopy. However, working with residents, the partners developed a community vision plan that also included hundreds of fruit and nut trees, edible vines and shrubs, community garden beds, medicinal herbs, pollinator plants, a restored stream, community gathering spaces and walking trails. Residents were employed in phase one construction, including building the community garden beds, through a workforce training program. And, two residents have been employed at the Food Forest through partnerships with Trees Atlanta and Greening Youth Foundation. The site is already producing food from the garden beds, and, in time, the trees will produce an abundance of persimmons, pecans, apples, plums, nectarines, papaws and more — all of which will be open and available to the public.

Integrating Equity In both Atlanta examples, the park design process was intentionally structured to empower residents to participate in the development, construction, maintenance and activation of these new community

green spaces. As a result, residents have a true sense of ownership, and the parks are meeting their needs and priorities, and have become treasured community assets that are activated and cared for by a broad range of users. Thinking about equity as a process that can and should be integrated into each step of the project resulted in more equitable outcomes, including improved green spaces, increased access to fresh foods, reductions in urban flooding and expanded opportunities for those who live, work and play near these new park projects. Tony Torrence, an Atlanta Westside resident who has participated in this process and is a champion for parks and green infrastructure solutions, says it best: “Community residents are the ones that live with these challenges. We must be at the table, as full participants, to address these issues head on and find sustainable solutions that provide new parks, but that also build up our community and make this a better neighborhood for all.” Emy Brawley is the Midwest Associate Director for The Conservation Fund Conservation Services Midwest (ebrawley@ conservationfund.org). Shannon Lee is the Urban Conservation Manager for The Conservation Fund (slee@conservationfund.org).

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Social Media Enhances

Inclusivity Outdoors

Inviting diverse audiences outdoors one selfie at a time

By Paula Jacoby-Garrett

I wanted to sit outside and listen to the roar of the ocean, but I was afraid. I wanted to walk through the redwoods, but I was afraid. I wanted to glide in a kayak and feel the cool water splash in my face, but I was afraid. — Excerpt from “Black Women in the Wilderness” by Evelyn C. White

“It took me until I was almost 35 to experience the outdoors because it was a world I knew nothing about, and one that I thought was closed off to people of color,” says Will “Akuna” Robinson, military veteran and outdoor enthusiast. “Growing up, I never heard of black people camping or hiking, never saw people who looked like me in gear commercials or ads.” Feeling comfortable and welcomed in the outdoors doesn’t come easily for everyone, especially those from diverse groups. Historically, white males were most of the outdoor adventure seekers and nature protectors. Currently, minorities make up more than one-third of the U.S. population, and it is estimated that by 2044, the country will be a minority-majority (https://tinyurl. com/yahgykgj). However, only 22 percent of visitors to national parks in 2014 were a minority, and 26 percent of participants in 30 Parks & Recreation

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Will Robinson of @Akunahikes pictured on his trek of the Appalachian Trail.


Originally from El Salvador, Bertha Gutierrez has developed a passion for the desert Southwest.


Grassroots Change

outdoor activities in natural areas are non-Caucasian (https://tinyurl.com/ y4ugsytp).

Diversity in Media and Advertising Our media outlets still depict a white majority in outdoor environments, be it in advertising or social media. According to Diversify Outdoors (www.diversifyoutdoors.com), “People of color and other diverse identities have long been underrepresented in the outdoor industry and its advertising campaigns.” When media does include diverse groups, the result isn’t always positive. “I remember a post 32 Parks & Recreation

that recently went viral on Facebook of a store using a plus-sized mannequin to model leggings and a sports bra. It was amazing to see that kind of representation from a huge sportswear company, but [there were] hundreds of awful comments. They made me feel so bad about myself,” says Kaila Walton, adventure and landscape photographer, and plus-size woman. “We are told to go exercise and lose weight and then, in the same breath, we are told ‘don’t wear those pieces of athletic wear, that’s disgusting — skin-tight clothes don’t belong on fat people.’”

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Behind the scenes, there’s a grassroots movement happening in social media that’s changing the face of outdoor recreation. Across social media platforms, individuals from around the world are highlighting their outdoor adventures and, in turn, are motivating and inspiring others. These individuals aren’t the typical white, middle- to upper-class outdoor adventurer. They are from minority groups; they have disabilities, they are LGBTQ+ and they are plus-sized. For Walton, seeing others like her on social media is a turn in the right direction. “There are a bunch of great inclusive Instagram pages related to the outdoors, as well as body-positive outdoor influencers that I have been following. They are making great steps toward an inclusive outdoors for all, no matter a person’s physical size, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity. I find that when you surround yourself with like-minded people, especially ones who look like you or are similar, even if it is just on social media, it absolutely helps your mindset when it comes to feeling like you belong in the outdoors.”

Inspiring Others Seeing others like her on social media has allowed Walton to also feel comfortable posting pictures of herself there. “I am slowly trying to post more and more photos of me, because I have found that a lot of my followers like when I am authentic about the issues when it

comes to fat people in the outdoors. I would like (them) to see that anyone can be in the outdoors, hiking, camping, backpacking, biking, kayaking or whatever sport they are into, no matter their size. If I can inspire someone who looks like me to get outside and enjoy what the outdoors has to offer, then I have done my job.” For Corina Newsome, her social media presence came as a college class assignment. As part of a graduate seminar course, students were asked to use social media to engage in science communication. Newsome chose to create a blog, and later Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, to highlight her life as an inner-city-raised black biology graduate student, who was spending much of her time outdoors conducting research. It didn’t take long before it took off. “I was contacted by people from across the country and world because of my blog. I realized this is a very effective medium for communicating content, but also making valuable connections.” From there, she began to focus her social media presence. “I became very intentional about what I posted, addressing systemic issues in the field that relate to my life experiences, such as being a woman, being African American and being from the city. I’ve been able to meet other black people with the same kinds of passions and concerns and motivators as me — both around the country and very close to me. It has allowed me to forge friendships and partnerships, as well as to connect with people who I have admired for a long time.” Robinson’s journey into the outdoors came as a way to handle his PTSD that resulted from his military service. “In 2016, I took

a chance and got out on trails because I needed some healing in nature and just hoped for the best. Almost 8,000 trail miles later, here I am.” Today, he is a long-distance hiker, has completed the Appalachian Trail and is currently hiking the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. He is sharing his story on social media and uses it to connect with others and to reach out to other veterans. “I try to stay active on my Instagram account to let other veterans with PTSD know that they can find healing in nature,” Robinson says. “Also, [I do it] to be visible to other people of color who might want to explore the outdoors. Hopefully, by seeing my journeys, they feel more comfortable getting out there. “I think my journey is showing veterans with PTSD that there are other options that can help them manage their symptoms. Medication and counseling are resources that work for some; others need more to get back on their feet,” he adds. “I’m constantly contacted by other veterans who have been using the outdoors for therapy for years. Others have started because they have seen my journeys. It lets me know that I’m doing some good for people who truly need it.”

Here is a handful of selected Instagram accounts, blogs and websites that focus on diversity (*highlighted in this article): Instagram Accounts @Akunahikes* @ashleysadventure @brownfolksfishing @BrownPeopleCamping @chilltash @curvykilicrew* @fatgirl.hiking @fatgirlshiking @fat_hikingbae* @getoutdoorsnv* @gritfreedomchair @IndigenousWomenHike @jennybruso @kailawalton* @latinxhikers @nativesoutdoors @prideoutside @themirnavator @samortizphoto @unlikelyhikers

Websites and Blogs Disabled Hikers https://disabledhikers.com Diversify Outdoors www.diversifyoutdoors.com Get Outdoors Nevada https://getoutdoorsnevada.org*

Diversity in the Nonprofit Sector

GRIT Freedom Chair www.gogrit.us

The Las Vegas-based Get Outdoor Nevada foundation is working hard to get people of all types outdoors. Social media is a large part of its promotion. “Our mission is to connect the community to outdoor spaces in Nevada,” says Bertha Gutierrez, volunteer program director. Gutierrez, who is from El Salvador, promotes diversity in the outdoors whenever she can. “People of color in the outdoors is something I am

Hood Naturalist https://hoodnaturalist635144784. wordpress.com* Unlikely Hikers https://jennybruso.com/ unlikelyhikers Merrell.com www.merrell.com/US/en/ blog?url=%2F%2Fmerrell_ us%2Ffrom-ptsd-to-at%2F* Outdoor Afro https://outdoorafro.com/about

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Parks & Recreation




In the city of Reno, a woman has a blast riding a sit-ski.

passionate about, and long-term, I want to make an impact in that area — to get more people outdoors.” She says that at Get Outdoors Nevada, “even our team is diverse. We have 12 staff members, and seven are people of color.” Gutierrez grew up playing outside — going to the beach, playing in the ocean and visiting parks in El Salvador. She didn’t feel comfortable at first hiking here in the United States. “Usually, I was the only person of color outside. When I first started hiking, it was hard for me to feel like I belonged. I felt like ‘I’m not supposed to be here.’ But it was such a wonderful experience. Walking in nature for just a little bit melts stress away. You feel so wonderful afterwards,” she says. Eventually, hiking became a regular activity for her. In her work, Gutierrez strives to make others feel comfortable 34 Parks & Recreation

outdoors as well. “I feel like everyone should feel like they belong. There are so many health benefits from spending time outside, and it doesn’t have to be rock climbing or hiking. It can be [as simple as] going on a picnic, but that time outdoors is important for health. To have the outdoors be an inclusive space is important; we need to make sure that people have an opportunity to experience nature.”

The Role of Business By promoting diversity in advertising and social media, outdoor recreation businesses not only can market their products, but also can share the story of diversity for others. GRIT Freedom Chair (www. gogrit.us) does just that by sharing stories and posts of users and community groups that use its allterrain wheelchair. “The power of social media is that whether through

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images or video, we have the power to show people who need it the most that there is a way to regain some independence and enjoy the outdoors,” says Adrienne Ritchie, GRIT’s director of marketing. “It is our belief that we can truly be more and do better when we partner together, which is why we like to promote these partnerships through social stories and testimonials. We not only want others to go ‘aha, this is how we can better our adaptive/accessible programming’ and use a current partnership as a blueprint, but also get the word out about organizations that are doing really great work to make their communities more accessible,” Ritchie adds.

Just Get Outdoors and Take a Selfie Today, our local park and recreation agencies are working hard for

inclusion of minority and other diverse audiences. According to NRPA, almost half its member agencies have adopted formal inclusion policies, and a large number provide programming for those groups. Incorporating diversity into social media for programming campaigns can be a useful tool to invite diverse groups to attend. “Social media is an amazing tool because it helps you see yourself in ways that you never would. It helps you see people who look just like you, doing something you didn’t even think about doing,” says Claudia Patterson. Although she always liked the outdoors, her love of hiking came later in life. While attending a plus-size yoga class, she connected with a fellow class member, who asked her to join a small group of women on a hike to Kilimanjaro. “Honestly, I had no idea of the magnitude of Kilimanjaro, but I said, ‘OK.’ Later, I realized what I had gotten myself into, but the training for that hike was some of the best times ever.” During the trip, the group documented their journey via social media. After they returned, Patterson continued hiking and posting to her social media accounts. She now leads monthly hikes in Northern California’s Bay area for plus-size hikers.  “For those of us on social media, we contribute in a way that lets people see that whether you’re fat, whether you’re brown or in any way not typical, the outdoors is for everyone,” contends Patterson. “It doesn’t matter if you have the right hiking boots or the perfect backpack. Put your leggings on, put your sneakers on and get outside and enjoy it.”

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Parks & Recreation



The Murray Canal Trail, a 3.1-mile-long gravel trail, runs along the Jordan and Salt Lake Canal near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Improving Systems to Achieve

Equitable Park Access

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RPA believes that everyone should have just and fair opportunity to access local parks, recreation facilities and programs. Easy access to parks is linked to increased physical activity, improved mental health, stronger community bonds and enhanced sustainability; yet, more than 1 in 3 people do not have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. In addition, those who do, don’t always have access to quality and/or welcoming park spaces. That’s why the NRPA Board of Directors has adopted “ensure access for all” as one of four strategic priorities.

What Is Equitable Access?

How three cities are embracing NRPA’s 10-Minute Walk initiative By Rachel Banner, Jared Mummert and Cindy Mendoza

NRPA’s work on the 10-Minute Walk, a national campaign to improve safe and equitable access to quality parks and green spaces, is the foundation for this strategic direction. Since October 10, 2017, the campaign has engaged more than 270 mayors and other elected officials representing about 20 percent of the U.S. population. To support the campaign, NRPA has provided grants and technical assistance to 32 communities to develop plans, policies and funding opportunities and created a 10Minute Walk learning series that features interactive webinars and member-led network calls. We’ve heard amazing stories of how park and recreation agencies are ensuring their communities have access to great parks now and into the future. Below are just a few of those stories.

Engaging Communities to Inform Programs and Policies Anchorage, Alaska, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Chugach Mountain Range, experiences extreme temperature changes between its short summers and long winters, and daylight ranging from six hours in December to more than 19 hours in June. Anyone relocating to Anchorage faces challenges adapting to such a dynamic environment. Parks, trails and recreation opportunities play a crucial role in that adapting. The city’s population is as diverse as its environment. It is home to indigenous people who

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Parks & Recreation




Community members take in a performance at the Murray Amphitheater in Murray City, Utah.

have lived in Anchorage for millennia and many military families, and it welcomes immigrants who speak more than 107 different languages. According to The Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) ParkServe, 74 percent of people in Anchorage have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. While that number is higher than the national average, it is not equitable across all populations in the city. This was the impetus for Anchorage to join 10-Minute Walk and work with NRPA’s team on an NRPA 10-Minute Walk grant. Over the grant year, Anchorage focused on addressing barriers to park access by engaging historically underrepresented communities to help create an inclusive park system and by recognizing the traditional lands of the Dena’ina people. In this endeavor, Anchorage Parks and Recreation partnered with Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s office, the Anchorage Park Foundation, Alaska Native Heritage 38 Parks & Recreation

Center, Alaska Literacy Program, Catholic Social Services’ Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services (RAIS), and the National Park Service. These partners united under Welcoming Anchorage, an initiative to build a more inclusive, welcoming community, and recognize the economic, cultural and social contributions immigrants and refugees make across the community. Welcoming Anchorage launched a listening tour in winter 2018 to hear from indigenous and new Alaskans about their experience with park and recreation services. Three listening sessions were hosted by the Alaska Native Heritage Center — one with students from the Alaska Literacy Program, one with RAIS clients and their children, and one with Alaska Native elders and youth — and were followed up by an in-person and online survey. Uniting around the Anchorage

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10-Minute Walk goal and articulating plans with clear messaging to all partners helped overcome the challenges of varied stakeholder interests and many participant languages. Through the grant funds and with assistance from the Alaska Literacy Program and RAIS, most of the spoken languages were covered during the sessions, creating a safe, inclusive environment. From the sessions and the follow-up survey, the project team learned of barriers to access, such as the need for season-appropriate gear and fears of wildlife encounters — a frequent occurrence — for indigenous and new Alaskans. However, they also learned that 39 percent of participants are using parks and green spaces and view them positively. In addition, participants would like culturally relevant art, more signage, edible and native landscaping, and culturally relevant markets. The city will use this information in developing plans to address community feedback and make parks and green spaces more welcoming to all Alaskans.

Using Policy to Overcome Acquisition Challenges Tukwila, Washington, a Seattle suburb, is an up-and-coming city with a diverse and growing population. The Duwamish River runs straight through the city, providing opportunities to enjoy nature in an urban setting, and Tukwila Parks and Recreation, which manages the city’s 159 acres of parks and 12 miles of trails, works diligently to enhance the quality of life for its residents. Forty percent of Tukwila’s population was born outside of the Unit-

from playing outside and leads them to play in parking lots, which, in some cases, causes the families to get evicted.” To address these problems, the city began negotiations with the property owner for a long-term lease. However, after months of investing time and effort, no agreement was reached. Tukwila faced difficulty closing the access gap not only because of unwilling property owners, but also because of rising real estate costs. Removing the barriers in the acquisition process required Tukwila to change the scope of its work to focus on creating more equitable policies. One barrier to acquiring land was the inability of low-income communities to provide a match for the King County Conservation Futures Tax Levy funding requirement. Through extensive work reviewing, developing and proposing revisions to the tax levy, the Open Space Equity Cabinet adopted a new code of standards. This would waive the tax levy funding match requirement for identified “equity areas,” as defined by median household income, rates of hospi-

talization for asthma, diabetes and heart disease, and urban areas lacking publicly owned and accessible open space within a quarter mile. This will allow Tukwila to acquire funding and create parks and open spaces for underserved areas. After passing the policy and identifying a new area for development and acquisition, in March 2019, Tukwila applied for funding to purchase a different property through the tax levy. Ahead of the purchase and in the negotiations for the initial lease, the city utilized new community engagement strategies, such as Artist in Residence. The two artists in residence engaged the community through an inclusive, interactive arts-based method that allowed everyone, regardless of language, culture or other barriers, to express their desires for the new park space. Tukwila will use these engagement methods, policy frameworks and other lessons of park access to develop the Tukwila Parks, Recreation & Open Space Plan, ultimately aiding in the increase of equitable access across the city.


ed States, and most of its residents are people of color. Equity is a core value, and, in 2017, the city developed an equity policy that defines equity as “eliminating systemic barriers and providing fair access to programs, services and opportunities to achieve social, civic and economic justice.” Although 71 percent of Tukwila’s residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk, quality and access continue to be top priorities. To accomplish the equity policy for parks, Mayor Allen Ekberg and Parks and Recreation Director Rick Still selected criteria to prioritize development and maintenance of parks. These criteria included access to parks within a 10-minute walk, income, rates of chronic disease and other factors, such as language and racial diversity. Through this process, Tukwila identified a community that had a critical gap in park access and obtained an NRPA 10-Minute Walk grant, initially to focus its efforts on addressing the gap. Specifically, the city aimed to develop a community engagement model for acquiring and developing new park space that it hoped could be replicated in other neighboring communities. As team members began engagement, they learned just how much their community needed a safe park space. “Everybody deserves a safe place to play,” says Tukwila Parks and Recreation Manager Tracy Gallaway. “The challenge with this area is that even though there are parks within a 10-minute walk, they are not always safely accessible. This prevents children

Anchorage residents participate in one of three listening tours during which indigenous and new Alaskans share their experience with park and recreation services.

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Murray City residents engage in a pop-up activity, one of the ways city staff used to gather community input.

Using a Systemwide Master Plan to set Priorities With 424 acres of city parks and another 229 acres of county parks serving 49,897 residents, Murray City, Utah, appears to have plenty of parks. “Murray City has been an innovator in parks and recreation for the past 50 years,” notes Kim Sorensen, Murray’s parks and recreation director. “The key to our success is how we have balanced innovation with community traditions.” The city has a proud history in the smelter and metal refining industry, which attracted a diverse European and Japanese population through the mid-1900s. This early cultural diversity influenced Murray City’s heritage and independent spirit, which are evident in the current emphasis on arts and culture, community events and protected open space. Today, the city’s growing population includes Latinx and mixed-race groups that call Murray home. The 49,987 residents of Murray enjoy 13.1 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents: well above the median 9.6 acres per 1,000 residents 40 Parks & Recreation

for cities of this size, accroding to NRPA’s Park Metrics. However, TPL’s ParkServe® reveals that only 47 percent of Murray residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk. Why is a park-rich city so park deficient? 1. East Murray had no parks, forcing residents to rely on schools with traditional amenities. In West Murray, however, residents describe a different scene with access to winding paths, a splash pad and nature center. 2. Citywide, park acreage is concentrated in large, centralized parks, special-use recreation areas and riverfront green space. In contrast, the city has only eight neighborhood parks lacking active recreation. 3. Murray is divided by two major interstates: a railroad, a light rail line and the Jordan River — all within 12.3 square miles, making it difficult to get across town unless traveling by car. In 2017, East Murray had an opportunity to expand recreation access through an interlocal agreement for a 10-foot-wide path along

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the Jordan and Salt Lake Canal. The Murray Canal Trail was jointly funded through city money and a Salt Lake County Transportation Alternative Program Grant. Although tremendously popular, the trail by itself lacks the types of amenities — art, play elements, signage and benches — that attract everyone. Crossing southeast Murray, the trail is a 2-mile-plus walk from the higher density residential areas. Still, nearby residents are excited about the trail. One resident describes it as “the best thing that’s happened in East Murray.” Then she adds, “In fact, it is the only thing that has happened [in East Murray]. We need more parks and green space!” Sorensen is aware of the competing demands for improved park access across the community. “Murray City’s parks, facilities, trails and golf course are heavily used. Our programs are incredibly popular. Some of our facilities are older and need improvements,” she notes. “Residents tell us they want new amenities, including dog parks, outdoor fitness equipment and more pickleball. We’re raising funds to renovate the historic Murray Theater to support the performing arts. We’ll add a new public plaza when City Hall redevelops in a few years. New housing is being added in Central and West Murray, which will increase park needs. At some point, we have to ask ourselves: What are our priorities?” The department began updating its Parks & Recreation Master Plan in response to that question. Sorensen asked project consultant, MIG, Inc., to look at areas lacking 10-minute

walk access and to identify community priorities. Using ParkServe® as a starting point, MIG mapped 19 areas that do not have a city park within a half-mile, evaluating where schools, churches, detention basins, golf courses, private open space and parks outside the city could help meet needs. Simultaneously, city staff hosted a series of pop-up events, stakeholder interviews and an online questionnaire to understand what types of recreation options, locations and funding options the community would support. They identified four key areas for future parkland or recreation facilities. The Master Plan, projected for completion in December 2019, will carry forward Murray City’s approach to balancing diverse community needs, while providing a menu of solutions to expand park access and ensure that recreation options are accessible year-round.

Improving Systems to Achieve Equitable Park Access As evidenced by these three communities, the work of NRPA’s 32 partner communities and countless other park and recreation agencies, improving systems to achieve equitable park access requires an intentional process and sustainable solutions, grounded in equity and inclusion. In this process, it is our responsibility as public agencies to understand the history of the people in our communities, like the native Dena’ina people in Anchorage, and of the land on which we work. It requires us to examine our communities as they are today, including community-level barriers such as a lack of park spaces and system-level policies like the matching requirements in Tukwila, Washington. Finally, it demands that we work with our communities and partners to prioritize future investments that will provide the best health and environmental outcomes and opportunities, such as in Murray City, Utah. While every community has different needs, there are common solutions, such as system master plans, funding distribution policies and programming-level policies that can help improve communities now and into the future. Share your equitable access experiences, including successes and challenges, and learn from others by joining the 10-Minute Walk Learning Series (www. nrpa.org/10MinuteWalk).

Rachel Banner is NRPA’s Director of Park Access (rbanner@nrpa. org). Jared Mummert is an NRPA Program Specialist (jmummert@ nrpa.org). Cindy Mendoza is Director of Parks and Recreation for MIG, Inc. (cindym@migcom.com).

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Parks & Recreation


NRPA UPDATE Improving Community Access to Nutritional Foods By Jennifer Fulcher-Nguyen


RPA, with support from the Walmart Foundation, awarded $1.5 million to 27 park and recreation agencies in 2019 — 17 in an innovation cohort and 10 in a rural cohort — through the Increasing Access to Healthy Meals at Parks grant. Funding for the innovation cohort supports innovative strategies to do the following: • Address transportation barriers by leveraging local assets and piloting innovative models • Start or expand farmers markets or community-supported agriculture programs at park and recreation sites • Start or expand intergenerational meal programs at park and recreation sites • Support child nutrition meal programs

During the summer, NRPA staff visited three agencies that received innovation cohort funding to see these strategies in action.

Transportation Assistance Saves the Day It’s 7:50 a.m. on a July weekday in North Little Rock, Arkansas, when Nystaucia Lane and her three children, Alyssa, Jaiden and Nolan, head for the bus stop.

This is the first leg of their new summer morning commute using Rock Region METRO summer passes. From start to finish, their journey takes nearly an hour, but it’s an hour Lane is grateful for and that wouldn’t be possible without the Be Mighty METRO program. This citywide transportation initiative, launched through a cross-sector partnership between the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and Rock Region METRO, with support from the Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department, fills the summertime gap in private or public transportation. This can be the difference between kids having access to enough food, staying active and continuing to stay engaged with each other and their mentors. Between June and July, more than 1,200 individuals registered for bus passes and pass holders took more than 12,000 rides. The number of summer meals served at libraries increased by 46 percent (compared to June 2018) and the CALS summer reading numbers grew from 7,733 youth in 2018 to 13,652 in 2019. The program also saved families about $200 to $300 a month — money that could purchase healthy foods, school supplies or meet other family needs. During Berea Farmers Market, young vendors sell fruits, vegetables, flowers and crafts alongside other community vendors.

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Activities such as t-shirt decorating and tie-dye bring older and younger citizens together in Burlington, Vermont.

Youth Learn the Importance of Healthy Foods In July, pint-sized guests gathered for a Teddy Bear Tea Party at the Glades Community Garden in Berea, Kentucky. Here, youth in the Berea Kids Eat summer program, an offshoot of Grow Appalachia, snack on fresh berries, melon and zucchini bread, while drinking tea made from herbs picked from the garden. The garden offers a safe sanctuary for kids not only to enjoy their summer mornings, but also to learn about where food comes from, how pollinators contribute and how to use what they harvest. Each month, a special junior market, held during the weekly Saturday Berea Farmers Market, provides the kids with a space to sell the fruits, veggies and flowers harvested from Glades and the nearby Berea Urban Farm. Participants build invaluable leadership skills and confidence, as they learn how to harvest the food, prepare it to sell, price it appropriately and interact with community members. And thanks to the Increasing Access to Healthy Foods grant, the junior market now has a mobile cart to display the fresh produce for sale, local summer meal sites have increased and community wellness goals have been exceeded.

Generations Connect Through Healthy Foods Even in the picturesque city of Burlington, Vermont, residents experience ongoing challenges with food insecurity and social isolation. But, the Burlington Department

The Lane family uses METRO summer passes to get to community summer programs that have been helping families access summer meals and enrichment activities.

of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront (BRPW) has been working to change this narrative by providing healthy meals to school-aged children and older adults five days a week, year-round. By collaborating with organizations such as the Burlington School Food Project, Burlington Housing Authority and Age Well VT, BPRW has expanded its recreation and nutrition drop-in program. The Increasing Access to Healthy Foods funding has enabled the city to expand the summer meal program in three of Burlington’s subsidized family develop-

ments and to open a meal site at the Andy A DOG Williams Skatepark and a dinner site at Roosevelt Park. BPRW also provides opportunities for children and older adults to connect and engage in mutually beneficial activities. Throughout the summer, these intergenerational activities included berry-picking, field trips to community gardens, smoothie making using local produce and cooking/baking demonstrations. And, the results clearly show how intergenerational activities improve the lives of children and older adults: hallways decorated with art they’ve created, hearing their chatter at events and seeing the affection shared as they interact. Learn more about these Increasing Access to Healthy Meals at Parks grant projects: • Little Rock, Arkansas bit.ly/2kpLTIy • Berea, Kentucky: bit.ly/2ksTlTp • Burlington, Vermont: bit.ly/2m4JeV1”

– Jennifer Fulcher-Nguyen, NRPA’s Communications Manager

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Allen Parks and Recreation’s Growth Through CAPRA Accreditation By Matthew Cobb


im Dentler, director of Allen Parks and Recreation, took a deep breath when he received the department’s self-assessment results in June from NRPA’s Commission of Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). After more than two years, the department would find out how its accreditation submission had been scored: It had met 150 of the 151 standards, including every mandatory standard! Achieving CAPRA accreditation has been a longstanding goal for Allen Parks and Recreation. Located in North Texas, the city of Allen, with a population of more than 105,000, has 1,196 acres of parkland, more than 68 miles of hike-and-bike trails, 60 parks and seven recreation facilities, including a municipal golf course, natatorium and one of the state’s largest outdoor skate parks. “Our mission is to serve, and by achieving CAPRA accreditation, Allen Parks and Recreation is proving that the department is operating at a benchmark level of efficiency and making the best use of resources, while maintaining the highest degree

of professionalism,” says Dentler. In May 2016, the department began the CAPRA accreditation process with a kickoff meeting where staff members were placed in teams based on their professional expertise. Each team was assigned a CAPRA self-assessment chapter aligned with its expertise and tasked with collecting information and evidence to satisfy the standards in that chapter. “Taking several years to complete, the CAPRA accreditation process had its challenges, including staff changes and needing to modify the project timeline in order to meet the submission deadline,” explains Jennifer Robinson, the department’s


A skateboarder practices on the ramps at the Edge Skate Park and Visitor Center in Allen, Texas.

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support specialist, who organized the CAPRA accreditation process. There were numerous hurdles that had to be overcome, from compiling evidence to documenting policies and finding information cross-divisionally, to satisfy all the standards. However, by establishing challenging yet achievable expectations, maintaining strong communication among everyone involved in the process and supporting each other, Allen Parks and Recreation was able to grow as a team to complete the self-assessment. Toward the end of 2018, Allen Parks and Recreation began finalizing the accreditation documentation, and the final self-assessment was edited, compiled and submitted in early 2019. “The CAPRA accreditation process has helped Allen Parks and Recreation become a better agency by making day-to-day operations more effective through increased staff communication and documentation of processes, policies and procedures,” Dentler says. He adds: “Becoming a CAPRA-accredited department validates the public’s trust in Allen Parks and Recreation. Without a doubt, going through this process has strengthened Allen Parks and Recreation as a team, while setting the department up for even greater success in the years to come.” To learn more about accreditation, visit www.nrpa.org/CAPRA. Matthew Cobb is the Marketing Manager for the city of Allen, Texas (mcobb@ cityofallen.org).

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Whether you want to make a bigger impact on your community, keep your expertise fresh, or improve your professional status, CPRP certification will open the door to more and better opportunities.

Staying informed of recent and new trends beyond the internals of our departments sends a message to the communities that we serve - hey, not only do we hold the degrees but we’re certified! Daniel Stines, CPRP Parks & Recreation Director, Town of Harrisburg, NC

Become a Certified Park and Recreation Professional www.nrpa.org/CPRP


Speaking Opportunities at the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference


o you have a great idea for a session or want to showcase your expertise? Is there an experience that you or your agency has had that could benefit your peers and other communities? Share your unique ideas and experiences by speaking at the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, October 27–29, 2020. Beginning October 28, 2019, you can submit your education session proposals for the 2020 conference. Speakers are encouraged to present original content that promotes participant interaction. They should also be energetic and engaging to inspire a diverse audience passionate about parks and recreation, conservation, health, landscape architecture, city planning and more.

Audience members may be diverse, but they are united in their passion to make communities great places to live. We are looking for speakers who can build on that passion and inspire even greater impact on communities nationwide. Submit your proposals by November 29, 2019, to be eligible to win a free full-package registration to the conference. The package includes access to three days of education sessions, a two-day exhibit hall pass and tickets to NRPA’s exclusive networking events. Learn more at www.nrpa.org/ Proposals.

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YOUR IDEAS ARE WORTH SHARING Submit your education session ideas for the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.


Submit your session proposals October 28 - November 29, 2019 for the chance to speak in Orlando and win a free full-package registration to the conference.

For more information, visit nrpa.org/Proposals or contact education@nrpa.org


Member Spotlight: Rafael Payan, Ph.D. By Lindsay Collins


afael Payan, Ph.D., is general manager of Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. Under his leadership, the park district recently acquired the Rancho Cañada golf course, one of the premier courses on the planet. “With the purchase, our goal is not to keep the golf course in operation, the reason being is that there’s some water issues in California and on top of that, golf is starting to have less of a usership,” says Dr. Payan. “We’re going to be restoring the 36-hole golf course back into native habitat. We’ve retired the use of about 185-acre-feet of water that we’re putting back into the Carmel River. And, since we’re so close to the ocean, we also have less of a chance of fertilizers and other chemicals transferred by runoff into the ocean.” This is only one of the many conservation- and social equity-focused projects that Dr. Payan has spearheaded throughout his career. Parks & Recreation spoke with Dr. Payan to learn how he developed his passions and how those, along with his life experiences, have contributed to his work. An excerpt of that conversation follows: Parks & Recreation: Before moving to Monterey, you were in Arizona, where you were heavily involved with education and advocacy on Native American reservations in the area. Can you tell us a bit about this experience and how it has informed your current work? Dr. Rafael Payan: My father is San Carlos Apache. Ever since I was a child, I was exposed to Apache culture. When I was in Arizona, I started volunteering for a whole bunch of projects. This is part of my background in landscape architecture. I master planned every state park in the Arizona state park system. I also noticed that on a lot of reservations, the kids were suffering for several different reasons. Part of it is that Native Americans are almost invisible in our culture.

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Native American kids see a lot of other folks of other races and ethnicities on television, movies, etc., but they don’t see themselves represented, or they don’t see themselves represented positively when they are. I wanted to help reverse that, so I started volunteering by designing parks for various tribes. Presently, I’m working with the White Mountain Apache tribe on a historic site — it’s where the U.S. Army was stationed in the mid1800s to the early 1900s. Eventually, it was what opened up the West for settlement by American settlers, because Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas were very difficult to cross for the settlers who wanted to move to California. The U.S. Army occupied this area and constructed numerous buildings, really beautiful buildings, for housing their officers and staff, as well as for the function of the military base that’s now part of the reservation. We’re adaptively reusing that property to create a park for what will be the Theodore Roosevelt School, the last Indian boarding school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the United States. Since these kids are away from their fam-

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Dr. Rafael Payan, pictured right, attending an Apache tribal ceremony.

ilies, we want to keep them occupied, so we’re taking part of the parade grounds from the historic military fort and creating soccer fields, baseball fields, a splash park, etc. In partnership with Johns Hopkins University, and through its business school, we’ve established a café. Visitors come down to the café, and we employ native kids so they can develop marketable skills. P&R: Do you feel that conservation and social equity intersect? If yes, how so? Dr. Payan: Sure, they absolutely do. I look at it this way: Access to conservation and Access to knowledge is incredibly important because…if we don’t teach our kids how to love this land, when they’re adults, they’re not going to support our organizations — whether they’re urban or natural areas. We want to create a knowledgeable voter, somebody who is environmentally literate. Read the interview in its entirety online at www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-mag azine/2019/october/member-spot light-dr-Rafael-Payan. — Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine


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ADA Compliance

Hot Topics NRPA Connect, an online network of more than 62,000 park professionals, is where you can get answers to your questions, share your challenges and discuss trending topics in the field. Check out what is being discussed this month: Bounce House Inflatables Policy — With the windand storm-related incidents that have occurred in the past few years, what is the latest policy on bounce houses, inflatable slides, water units, etc.? Also, do you require the vendor company to provide the insurance or the renter to get a separate policy that covers the city? We require the vendor to provide insurance but are getting some pushback from local vendors and elected body members about that requirement. Several NRPA members offered the following suggestions: We require a $1 million general liability insurance that lists the city as additionally insured, as well as an endorsement. We’ve gotten pushback on the endorsement — one local vendor charges renters an extra $300 for it, despite it already being something the vendor should have without an extra cost from [its] insurance company — but we’ve held to it for the past two years per the direction of our city attorney.

In addition to the insurance, we require the vendor to use airplane stakes (spiraled to screw in the ground) and agree to shut down when winds reach 12 mph.

Our insurance carrier explicitly states: “No bounce houses are permitted on any city properties.” We still see “non-renters” set up bounce houses, but because they are not under a rental contract with the city, they are deemed fully responsible. We also have signs in our parks stating no bounce houses are permitted. Log in to NRPA Connect (www.nrpaconnect.org) today to see more suggestions and policy examples. Don’t forget to download the NRPA Connect App to get or provide answers to questions on the go.

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he Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became effective for NRPA members on January 26, 1992. Even after 27 years, however, many people still are not aware of ADA requirements and what they mean for their organization.

What Is Title II? Title II of the ADA (www.ada.gov/ada_title_II.htm) “prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities and services of public entities. It applies to all state and local governments, their departments and agencies, and any other instrumentalities or special purpose districts of state or local governments.” It also requires that every new facility or site comply with the 2010 Standards (www.ada.gov /2010ADAstandards_index.htm) and uses the complex “program access test” to determine, for example, how many playgrounds in a city park system must be made accessible. So, what percentage of playgrounds in a city park system must be made accessible? Is it 20 percent, 33 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent? The answer varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and is a function of the number of playgrounds, complexity of the retrofits, resources available and demand for that asset by people with and without disabilities.

Some Things to Think About Whether to allow medical or recreational marijuana use is a current topic of discussion for many states and cities. Medical marijuana, known to alleviate pain and nausea for complex and chronic health conditions, is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. So, how will you respond to the family of a child with a disability that asks, as a reasonable modification, that your park and recreation staff hold their edible medical marijuana and provide it to them as prescribed? If you have not thought about this, you should do so before the question arises. Also, if you are one of the many cities or counties that has yet to complete an access audit and transition plan, make it a priority for the next fiscal year.

For advice and information about the ADA, contact John McGovern at 224.293.6451 or john.mcgovern@rac-llc.com.

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Parks & Recreation Crossword

Across 1 Cast iron weight used in some park fitness stations 6 Dieting measurement 9 Cries of children playing happily 10 Cal Ripken Jr.’s nickname 13 Dove cry 14 High level of care, abbr. 15 Box of tools 17 Tennis segment 20 Acidity measurement 22 Playground equipment for two 24 Grass stem 26 Was situated 28 Balance or patience prefix 30 Unnecessary cost 32 Denali is an ____ national park 35 Brazilian city 36 Creation for parks where children can happily have fun 37 Investment offered to encourage sustainability and to support climaterelated projects, 2 words 38 Spanish for sun

Down 1 River craft 2 Up to that time, abbr. 3 ____ Angeles 4 Vim and vigor 5 Zodiac sign 7 Park fixture 8 Emergency medical responder, abbr. 11 Colorful flower 12 European skyline sight 13 Musical items 16 Requiring medical attention 18 Double bend 19 Rat-a-___ (drum sound) 21 Revise some text 23 Gym exercise regimens 24 Front of a boat 25 Philosopher and poet who said: “the interminable forests should become graceful parks for use and delight” 27 Act that reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund 29 Hispanic neighborhood 31 Glide on an ice rink 33 Curved 34 Command to Fido 36 Place to hang a hat

Complete the crossword, then visit www.nrpa.org/crossword to verify your answers and to enter a drawing to receive a $50 shopping credit for AthleticJunction.com. A winner will be randomly selected October 31, 2019. 52 Parks & Recreation

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BECOME A CPSI. Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSIs) help ensure children have safe places to play. Not only that, becoming a CPSI opens the door for career advancement and increased job mobility.


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 www.nrpa.org/education.

PREPARE FOR THE NEXT AQUATICS SEASON WITH THE NEW NRPA AQUATIC MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE Check out NRPA’s new Aquatic Management Professional (AMP) Certificate! This program includes six online courses: aquatic facility maintenance management, budgeting and finance for aquatic management, marketing for aquatic management, programming for aquatic management, aquatic risk management and human resources for aquatic management. By completing this online certificate, you will gain the essential tools and resources needed to perform the core duties of an aquatic management professional. For more information on the AMP Certificate, visit www.nrpa.org/ampcertificate.


November 3–7, 2019 Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/SMS

January 12–17, 2020

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5 Mocksville, North Carolina 6 Yuma, Arizona 6 Smithfield, North Carolina


| O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G

January 26–31, 2020 Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/mms

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OPERATIONS Out with the Pool Odor: A Tale of Impactful Improvements The Goodson Recreation Center transformed its “pool” air quality By Zach Morris


f you can’t see your facility’s pool, you shouldn’t be able to smell it. The chemical “pool” smell that invades hallways, lobbies and locker rooms is not only unpleasant, but is also toxic to inhale. So, aquatics facilities, like the South Suburban’s Goodson Recreation Center in Centennial, Colorado, have adopted new technologies to help mitigate poor air quality.

The Challenge


The Goodson Recreation Center’s indoor pools were consuming too much chlorine and, at the same time, swimmers, staff and patrons were all exposed to the “pool” odor that permeated the entire facility. Aquatics facilities that use a single form of sanitation run the risk of making the pool and the surrounding areas stuffy and odorous. There is a common misconception that chlorine is the source of “pool” odor when, in fact, it is the result of too much expended chlorine in the form of combined chlorine. Com-

bined chlorine forms when the chlorine in pool water mixes with organic and inorganic contaminants in the water, such as sweat, skin oils, urea, etc. Once combined chlorine is formed, it has a limited ability to disinfect pool water. Combined chlorine is 25 times less effective than free chlorine, or the chlorine you purchase. Also, as chloramines (formed when chlorine is combined with a small amount of ammonia), combined chlorine carries toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) gas with them. Both elements not only hurt patrons and staff, but also

56 Parks & Recreation

affect the facility. In addition to causing an unpleasant “pool” odor, exposure to combined chlorine can cause patrons and staff to experience discomfort and develop harmful health issues, such as irritated red eyes and skin, allergies and asthma, and Lifeguard lung, which causes chronic coughing, chest tightness, headaches and shortness of breath. Some aquatics facilities shock their pools with additional chlorine to mitigate combined chlorine problems. The Goodson Recreation Center sought an easier, more effective and sustainable solution to break this painful cycle.

The Solution Travis Toler, aquatics coordinator at the Goodson Recreation Center, knew that complementing their primary chlorine disinfection with secondary or supplemental sanitation would help reduce combined chlorine and the “pool” odor it creates. While primary disinfection options, like chlorine or bromine, kill common pathogens, they do not cover the full scope of sanitation. The facility’s search for secondary sanitation led Toler to Clear Comfort’s Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) pool treatment. This AOP system uses hydroxyl

Travis Toler, aquatics coordinator at the Goodson Recreation Center. | O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G

radicals to do much of the work that traditional chlorine would by oxidizing and eliminating contaminants in the water. These hydroxyl radicals are highly reactive, shortlived and the most powerful oxidative compounds available for recreational water treatment. Toler, who has been in the aquatics industry for more than 15 years, was skeptical about newer technologies, like Clear Comfort’s AOP. “I thought this was snake oil,” he says. “I wasn’t sure, and I needed some convincing.” Despite his reservations, in April 2019, he installed the system on their indoor lap pool, hot tub and wading pool and monitored its results.

The Result After 10 weeks of measuring combined chlorine and chlorine consumption, as well as receiving input from the staff and patrons, Toler was able to see a significant improvement. “The truth is, I was wrong. It’s excellent,” Toler reports. “I love it, to be honest. It’s much easier to manage.” With Clear Comfort’s AOP, the Goodson Recreation Center was able to reduce its combined chlorine and chlorine consumption, while maintaining better water clarity. “I know our chlorine consumption, our bleach usage, has been much lower,” says Toler. “So, overall, it has just improved everything.” With less combined chlorine, swimmers, patrons, the facility supervisor and other staff members have all noticed an improvement in the facility’s “pool” odor and overall air quality. In recreational aquatics facilities, Clear Comfort’s AOP pool treatment is proven to reduce up to 70 percent of disinfection by-products (DBPs), which is

POTENCY OF OXIDIZERS Hydroxyl Radical Ozone Hydrogen Peroxide Hypochlorous Acid Chlorine Bromine 0




Oxidation Potential (V)

a type of combined chlorine. “The biggest impact I’ve noticed,” Toler says, “is definitely air quality. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from patrons and from the staff. Even the swimmers: a lot of our swim teams and coaches have commented and said that they notice a difference as well. It’s easier to breathe in here, not so humid, the air quality feels much better and is more ‘pure,’ as one of them said,” he explains. Moving forward, Clear Comfort’s AOP pool treatment will also help the facility reduce the risk of recreation water illnesses (RWIs), like Cryptosporidium parvum (Crypto). Reducing and eradicating chlorine-resistant microorganisms, like Crypto, are key components to being compliant with the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC).

AOP: The End of Pool Smell The bottom line is that less combined chlorine means less problems for aquatics facilities. Reducing combined chlorine and DBPs is essential for removing “pool” odor and the health prob-

lems that accompany it. In addition, facilities benefit from lower wear and tear on heating and air conditioning units, as well as structural elements that corrode from these foul-smelling compounds. As the recreational water industry progresses, complete water solutions that safely lower the harmful effects of chemicals are becoming the standard for healthand eco-conscious aquatics facilities. Advanced technologies, like Clear Comfort’s AOP, provide a more sustainable way for recreation centers to protect the health of their patrons, local communities and environment. To learn more about how your facility can reduce combined chlorine, visit: clearcomfort.com/re duce-combined-chlorine. Detailed references for this article are available at www.nrpa.org/parks-rec reation-magazine/2019/October/outwith-the-pool-odor-a-tale-of-impactfulimprovements.

Zach Morris is the Director of Customer Success for Clear Comfort (zach@clearcomfort.com).

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United States Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Publication Title: National Parks & Recreation Assoc/Parks & Recreation Publication Number: 422240 Filing Date: September 2019 Issue Frequency: Monthly Number of Issues Published Annually: 12 Annual Subscription Price: $30.00 for members; $36.00 for nonmembers Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication (not printer): National Recreation

and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501

Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Offices for Publisher (not printer):

National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, Loudoun, VA 20148-4501 Full Name and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: > PUBLISHER—Gina Cohen, National Recreation and Park Association,

22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501 > EDITOR—Sonia Myrick, National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501 Owner: National Recreation and Park Association 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501 Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Security Holders: None Tax Status: The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during the preceding 12 months. Publication Title: Parks and Recreation Issue Date of Circulation Data Below: September 2019

15. Extent and Nature of Circulation

a. Total Number of Copies (Net press run) (1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies) b. Paid Circula- (2) Mail In-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s tion (By Mail proof copies, and exchange copies) and (3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mail Including Sales Through outside Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other the Mail) Paid Distribution outside USPS® (4) Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS (e.g. First-ClassMail®) c. Total Paid Distribution (Sum of 15b (1), (2), (3), and (4))

Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months

No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date

16,849 15,521

23,424 15,599









d. Free or (1) Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies includNominal ed on PS Form 3541 Rate (2) Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies Included on Distribu- PS Form 3541 tion (By Mail (3) Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies mailed at other classes through the USPS Leg. First-Class Mail and Outside Included on PS Form 3541 the (4) Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail Mail) (Carriers or other means) e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (Sum of 15d (1), (2), (3), and (4)) f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e) g. Copies not Distributed (See instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3)) h. Total (Sum of 15f and 15g) i. Percent Paid (15c divided by 15f times 100) 16. Electronic Copy Circulation a. Paid Electronic Copies b. Total Paid Print Copies (Line 15c) + Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) c. Total Print Distribution (Line 15f) + Paid Electronic Copies (Lines 16a) d. Percent Paid (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (16b divided by 16c x100)











16,842 0

23,416 0

16,842 94.76%

23,416 68.44%

49,640 65,600

49,640 65,667





I certify that 50% of all my distributed copies (electronic and print) are paid above nominal price. 14. Issue Date of Circulation Data Below: September 2019 17. Publication of Statement Ownership. If the publication is a general publication, publication

of this statement is required. Will be printed in the October 2019 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: Sonia Myrick, Executive Editor September, 2019 I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).

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In the feature article “eSports: The Next Big Thing for Parks and Rec” in the September 2019 issue of Parks & Recreation magazine, Taylor Johnson is incorrectly listed as Taylor Jackson and he is the chief performance engineer for Statespace, a New York-based (instead of Dallas-based) neuroscience and artificial intelligence gaming company and a sports performance expert in the NFL and the ESports world. Also, Washington Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, is incorrectly listed as Washington Square and the tinyurl for the “eSport at the Rec Center?” podcast, should be https://tinyrul.com/y3o8fkmt.

advertiser index

Amish Country Gazebos.......................................................................... 59

In the feature article “Designing the Great Park that Everyone Deserves” in the September 2019 issue of Parks & Recreation magazine, Cully Park is incorrectly listed as being in Portland, Maine, instead of Portland, Oregon.

(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 ©2019 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.

W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 |

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Park Bench


Celebrating Inclusive Communities Each year since 2003, the city of Longmont, Colorado, hosts an event dedicated to celebrating its diversity. The Inclusive Communities Celebration (https://tinyurl.com/y6kvyub2) provides residents with the opportunity to participate in activities and connect with others to learn about the rich cultures they may not otherwise be aware exist within their community. “We saw the need to educate [community members] about the different cultures within the city of Longmont, and created the event as a way for [them] to educate each other about the different culture groups that live and work in Longmont,” says Adriana Perea, community relations specialist for the city of Longmont. The event features upwards of 25 participating groups, including Intercambio Uniting Communities, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Association - Longmont, Native American Rights Fund, Peruvians Northern Colorado and Longmont Bagpiper, to name a few. The groups contribute voluntarily and provide food, music, traditional dress, art, performances and a variety of other cultural displays and activities that allow attendees to see and experience aspects of the cultures represented. While the Longmont Multicultural Action Committee provides the resources necessary for hosting the event, the contributions from the community are what bring the celebration to life. In its first year, the event drew 200 attendees, and this number grew to 700 people during the 2018 celebration. “The event has created a more culturally connected and educated community,” says Perea. “The most active participants in the celebration have connected in a meaningful way that breaks cultural barriers and has resulted in a more inclusive Longmont community.” — Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine

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