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contents november 2019 volume 54 | number 11 | www.parksandrecreation.org

2019 NRPA ANNUAL CONFERENCE WRAP-UP Lindsay Collins and Suzanne Nathan

From the Opening General Session to the closing act of the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference, speakers, exhibitors and attendees alike shared stories about the many ways in which parks and recreation matter. Read about the events that took place in Baltimore, where innovators were recognized, and attendees learned from the park and rec professionals and advocates who are making an impact. 32 Time to Play! 35 Parks Matter 38 NRPA’s Dolesh Receives 2019 Pugsley Medal 4

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40 How Parks and Recreation Can Support Mental Health Initiatives Barbara Heller and Molly Young

With 1 in 5 people suffering from a mental health condition within their lifetime, it’s likely we all know someone who has been affected. Park and recreation agencies can play an important role in helping those with mental health challenges by working with experts to provide programs and services for individuals in need.

Play never told me you can’t or don’t or you shouldn’t or you won’t. Play never said be careful! You’re not strong enough. You’re not big enough. You’re not brave enough. Play has always been an invitation. A celebration. A joyous manifestation. Of the cans and wills and what ifs and why nots. Play isn’t one thing. It’s everything. Anything. Play doesn’t care what a body can or cannot do. Because play lives inside us. All of us. Play begs of us: Learn together. Grow together. Be together. Know together. And as we grow older. As the world comes at us with you can’t or don’t or you shouldn’t or you won’t. We come back to what we know. That imagination will never fail us. That words will never hurt us. That play will always shape us.

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contents november




12 Research

10 Editor’s Letter

NRPA Park Metrics Replaces NRPA Areas and Facilities Standards Melissa May

14 Park Pulse Are Local Parks a Popular Spot for People of All Ages to Volunteer?

16 Member to Member The Fit2Lead Program Emily M. D’Agostino, DrPH; Stacy Frazier, Ph.D.; Eric Hansen, MPA; and Sarah E. Messiah, Ph.D.

46 NRPA Update „„ CAPRA: A Tangible Guidepost for the City of Fort Collins 46 „„ Announcing the Newly Accredited and Reaccredited CAPRA Agencies 48 „„ Congratulations to the 2019 Gold Medal Award Winners 49 „„ NRPA’s New Product Spotlight Video Series 50 „„ Sustainability School 50 „„ Connect Hot Topics 52 „„ Member Benefit: Ready for the Holiday Event Season? 52 „„ Member Spotlight: Katy Keller, CPRP, AFO 53 „„ Parks & Recreation Crossword 54 „„ Professional Development Calendar 55

Perspectives Inclusion as an Opportunity Kristine Stratton

Telling Our Stories Gina Mullins-Cohen

18 Advocacy NRPA Capitol Hill Day Kate Clabaugh, MSW

20 Law Review ADA Accommodation Claim by Terminated Recreation Employee James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

26 Health & Wellness Parks and Recreation as Community Health and Wellness Hubs Lesha Spencer-Brown, MPH, CPH

28 Conservation Henrietta Lacks Park Inspires Bright Future for Baltimore Community Jennifer Fulcher and Wende David

30 Social Equity A Rising Tide: Social Equity in Baltimore’s Parks Zolna Russell, PLA, LEED AP, SITES AP; Kate Brower and Steven Preston

56 Operations Privacy and Inclusion Lindsey Peckinpaugh, AIA, LEED AP, RELi AP; and Jenny Stephens

58 Products 59 Park Essentials 63 Advertiser Index 64 Park Bench Parramore Kidz Zone Lindsay Collins


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Inclusion as an Opportunity As I write this, I am still feeling the energy and excitement of the NRPA Baltimore conference. To be among more than 8,000 park and recreation professionals, practitioners and advocates was incredibly inspiring and extremely encouraging. I had the pleasure of talking with scores of attendees, and the thing that encouraged me most was how many of them said, “I love NRPA, how can I help?” I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, this profession — this mission — is all about helping. We help build strong communities, increase positive health outcomes, fight chronic illness, create a sense of belonging, and on and on. So, in response to, “How can I help?” I invite you to help build a truly inclusive parks movement. During the conference, as in my Perspectives column in the September issue of Parks & Recreation, I talked about building a parks movement — one that recognizes and advocates for quality park and recreation programs for everyone. And, “everyone” really is the keyword here — because everyone deserves the remarkable benefits that quality parks and recreation offer. Two years ago, NRPA launched its Parks for Inclusion initiative, which provides resources and support across our membership in service of that belief that everyone deserves a great park. As we reflect on the successes of our first two years, we take pride in having launched our Parks for Inclusion Policy Guide and a database of resources (www.nrpa.org/ParksforInclusion), which have helped to move the needle by increasing the number of agencies that now have formal inclusion policies. We also take pride in the progress we have made overall to increase access to quality parks and green spaces through our Meet Me at the Park project (www.nrpa.org/Meet MeatthePark) (75 projects in 39 states), our Great Urban Parks Campaign (www.nrpa.org/GreenInfra structure) (14 projects in 14 states), our Parks Build Community projects (www.nrpa.org/ParksBuildCom munity) (nine projects in nine states), and the 10 Minute Walk initiative (www.nrpa.org/10MinuteWalk) we embarked on with The Trust for Public Land and the Urban Land Institute. Despite this great progress, there is so much more we can do — especially if we shift our thinking about how we define inclusion. 8

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People say that inclusion is a choice. They also say it is a practice. Both of these statements are indeed true. Yet, I appreciate that Haben Girma, the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference closing keynote speaker, builds on these ideas to further recognize that inclusion is an opportunity for innovation. An internationally recognized advocate for equal opportunities for people with disabilities, Ms. Girma, who is Deafblind, shared some critical words of wisdom with our conference attendees. She said that “disability never holds anyone back...the barriers that exist are created by society, and it’s up to every single one of us to work to remove those barriers.” She also shared several examples of how her disability sparked innovative solutions that removed barriers to participation — from graduating from Harvard Law to learning how to surf. And, she was quick to note that people created those innovative solutions — people like you and me. It’s up to us to resist the urge to let labels define what we and others can and cannot do. Instead, let’s be open to creating innovative solutions that invite everyone in. From a practical standpoint, tackling an innovation challenge can feel quite daunting. The good news is that there are seven critical questions anyone can ask to generate ideas and creative thinking when faced with an innovation challenge. These questions came from the Innovation Genome Project, which was an extensive look at innovations throughout human history and how they reflected strategic rethinks. The team working on this distilled that information into seven questions, and the project founder and strategist at Autodesk, Bill O’Connor, walks through the thinking behind the project and a prioritization tool in this video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9k67GL6sn0) that can help. The seven questions include things like what can we move, changing its position in time or space; what can we interconnect in a different way or for the first time; and what can we alter or change? When applied in an inclusion context, the seven questions are wonderful prompts to help us shift and expand our thinking. I am excited to innovate with you to create a truly inclusive park and recreation movement.




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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

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Telling Our Stories Recently, I was present as praise was given to one of my colleagues, Rich Dolesh, for earning the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration’s Pugsley Award. As I listened, Rich modestly replied that he was just doing what he loves and how others would have done the same. The thing is, others didn’t do the same, and his contributions are surely something to be honored (read more on page 38). Despite this truth, this is a message we often hear from (and is likely believed by) those we know who do extraordinary things. And, I suspect that many of us respond this way when praised for our own achievements. When we talk about our professional or personal accomplishments, we tend to speak about them softly. This year, the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference was all about speaking up to tell our stories and recognizing the ways in which park and recreation professionals and advocates go above and beyond to create a better world through building strong, healthy communities, where all people can live, but also thrive. As I listened to our speakers, exhibitors and attendees, it became apparent to me that a larger narrative was being told — one of the many park and recreation impacts the people in the industry are making every day. In our conference wrap-up features beginning on page 32, we reflect on the events of the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference, where attendees came together to discuss the challenges faced, innovations tested and lives changed by their agencies and their work. In Baltimore, we honored those who have worked passionately to make a difference in their communities and learned from the unique challenges and perspectives of others. The feature story on page 40, titled “How Parks and Recreation Can Support Mental Health Initiatives,” by Barbara Heller and Molly Young outlines some of the ways those in this field can play a role in helping individuals struggling with mental health challenges. “When we talk about mental health, we really need to start with those around us,” they say. “What [we] didn’t know is that our story is just like others…Talking about and sharing our experiences are what lead to understanding, a healthy future and removing the stigma forever!” Talking about the important things you do as park and recreation professionals doesn’t have to be difficult. The simple act of telling your stories — about the good work that you do, the people you encounter and the inspiration or challenges you see taking place in your community — fosters connection and relays a larger narrative of a profession of those in public service, dedicated to making a difference — and succeeding.

GINA MULLINS-COHEN Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing Editorial Director


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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 Anthony-Paul Diaz, Chair Michael Abbaté, FASLA Neelay Bhatt Ryan Eaker Robert García Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert, CPRP Tim Herd, CPRE Brian Johnson, CPSI Denise Johnson-Caldwell 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 NRPA Park Metrics Replaces NRPA Areas and Facilities Standards By Melissa May


tandards” is a word we hear often at NRPA. More specifically, park and recreation professionals ask us about the “NRPA Standards” nearly once a week, and it also came up at the membership booth at this year’s conference. This is impressive because the NRPA Areas and Facilities Standards has not been updated in more than two decades and will never again be updated. The reason for this is simple: There is not a single set of standards for parks and recreation that could possibly encompass the uniqueness found in every community across the country. Communities vary greatly by size, needs and desires; so too should their park and recreation agencies’ offerings. To think an agency in Alaska, one in Kansas and one in south Florida should hold themselves to the same standards is unrealistic, impractical and potentially detrimental. For instance, if your agency has


Parks & Recreation

more park acreage or swimming pools per 1,000 residents relative to the “typical” agency, you should not necessarily shed either amenity to meet that benchmark. An agency may have the “extra” park acreage or pools because of the unique needs of the population it serves.

Why Does This Conversation Matter? When agencies are being placed between “a rock” (of finite budgets) and “a hard place” (of meeting the needs of a growing jurisdiction),

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knowing your peer data provides a more accurate picture of best practices for your agency. Successful agencies tailor their offerings to meet the needs and demands of all members of their communities. Knowing the characteristics of the residents who use your agency’s resources — as well as the characteristics of those who may use those resources in the future (including age, race and income trends) — is also a factor when shaping the optimal mix of facilities and services your agency offers. Nearly a decade ago, NRPA replaced the single set of standards with the creation of the nationwide benchmarking tool for parks and recreation. Today, NRPA Park Metrics (www.nrpa.org/metrics) is the most comprehensive source of data benchmarks and insights for park and recreation agencies. Each spring, we publish the ever-popular NRPA Agency Performance Review (www.nrpa.org/apr), an annual report summarizing the benchmarking data contributed by nearly 1,100 park and recreation agencies to the Park Metrics database. Yes, this report presents the “typical” (median) nationwide benchmarking numbers that may remind you of “standards.” But, digging deeper in Park Metrics highlights the benefits of peer data and the limitations of the former one-size-fits-all set of standards. Consider the example of the very first benchmark presented in the

2019 NRPA Agency Performance Review: residents per park. According to the review, the typical park and recreation agency has one park per 2,181 residents, a figure not dissimilar to the former standards. The report, however, shows significant variation in this metric when the size of the jurisdiction being served by the agency is taken into consideration. For example, jurisdictions of less than 20,000 residents have a median of one park for every 1,231 residents, but agencies in towns serving 100,000 to 250,000 residents have a park for every 3,132 people served. These are big differences to the nationwide number and can have a great impact on agencies. Another example includes staffing at agencies serving a population of 50,000 to 99,999 residents. These agencies can look at their peers and see that a typical agency serving that population size has a staff of 60 fulltime equivalents (FTEs). Without that supplementary breakdown, the nationwide median of 38 FTEs for all agencies would suggest (incorrectly) to key stakeholders that the agency is overstaffed. In addition, the benchmark data within NRPA Park Metrics and the NRPA Agency Performance Review break down to the lower (25 percent) and upper (75 percent) quartiles. An agency serving 50,000– 99,999 residents might look at the median staffing of 60 FTEs and question its FTE count of 100. Yet, when it sees that the upper quartile for staffing is 122 FTEs, it learns its agency is not necessarily overstaffed. Conversely, an agency serving the same number of residents with a staff of only 25 FTEs can make a much stronger case for

the hiring of additional staff in an effort to bring it up to that lower quartile of 30 FTEs.

Doing Your Part Each of these examples circle back to the uniqueness of every agency, the limitation of a single set of “standards” and the need for peer benchmarking data. These benchmarks, however, do not happen without the participation of more than 1,000 park and recreation agencies across the nation. Entering your agency’s data will take only a few minutes but will help to inform the decisions of your colleagues across the industry. My colleague, Daniel Espada, and I are here to help you enter your Park Metrics data and access the

many reporting tools found within the platform. So, don’t continue to rely on standards that have not been updated for more than two decades. Take a closer look at the NRPA Park Metrics and the NRPA Agency Performance Review to see how your agency compares to its peers. Blending the knowledge of your agency’s unique needs with the starting point of custom benchmarking data will allow for more robust, informed decision-making. Your agency is not one-size-fits-all, and the data you use to make strategic decisions should not be either. Melissa May is NRPA’s Sr. Research Manager (mmay@nrpa.org).


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Local Parks Are a Popular Spot for People of All Ages to Volunteer

4 IN5

people look to their local parks and recreation for family-friendly, community volunteer opportunities.

Top Three Volunteer Activities

1 2 3

Picking up litter in parks and along trails

Planting trees in parks and along trails

Raking fall leaves for composting

Millennials lead the way in terms of volunteerism — 87% see themselves volunteering in any of these activities.

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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NRPA SOCIAL MEDIA @NationalRecreationandParkAssociation @nrpa_news




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MEMBER TO MEMBER The Fit2Lead Program Preventing youth violence in a park-based setting By Emily M. D’Agostino, DrPH; Stacy Frazier, Ph.D.; Eric Hansen, MPA; and Sarah E. Messiah, Ph.D.


Fit2Lead youth participate in a swamp sloughing nature excursion to Everglades National Park.


outh violence is a significant public health problem facing our nation. Every day, 1,374 U.S. youth on average, between the ages of 10 to 24 years, are victims of physical assault injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms (500,000 per year in 2016). Violence is the leading cause of death and nonfatal injuries for U.S. youth and its prevention is a primary objective of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Afterschool, park-based organizations can provide optimal settings for youth to acquire important social-emotional skills to improve resilience and reduce the likelihood of participating in at-risk behaviors and violence. Violence prevention efforts among youth must begin early. Half of adult mental health disorders are diagnosed by age 14, and evidence demonstrates a strong relationship between depression, anxiety, chronic emotional stress, low impulsivity and violence. Moreover, these experiences are aggravated by exposure to poverty. Effective juvenile violence prevention strategies include promoting positive adult role models and peer engagement, healthy relationships, and academic/career aspirations. In fact, the CDC has called for the development, broad dissemination and implementation of youth programs to increase resiliency and reduce risk of violence.


Parks & Recreation

Fit2Lead Program Design The Fit2Lead park-based afterschool resilience program in Miami-Dade County (MDC), Florida, provides daily mental/emotional/physical health and wellness activities and communication/ problem-solving skills training for at-risk youth ages 12–17. This program was initiated in 2016 by multiagency partners, including MDC Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces (MDPROS), Juvenile Services Department, Public Schools, and Police Department as part of the Mayor’s Roundtable on Youth Community Safety and is central to the MDPROS continued effort to create a healthier, more

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livable and sustainable community. The Fit2Lead program includes two arms: From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday–Friday, September to June, youth ages 12–14 in high-need neighborhoods attend 12 MDC parks at no charge (approximately 400 participants at a given time). During these hours, they receive daily academic support from a licensed MDC teacher and participate in workshops that provide them with opportunities to hone their communication/ problem-solving/emotion regulation skills, and engage in sports, recreation and nature excursions. Transportation from the schools to the parks is provided at no cost to families, and each park serves two to nine feeder schools. During the summers, youth can attend MDPROS summer camps at no charge. At age 15, participants who are in good standing become eligible for the second arm of the program: a year-round paid internship for youth ages 15–17 (approximately 150 participants at a given time). Interns are paid $9.05 per hour (a total salary of up to $4,289.70 per participant, per year) and participate in a three-hour weekly resilience workshop, combined with daily onsite, practical work experience. The uniqueness of this program is that a park and recreation department provides at-risk youth with a job,

where they support our park staff and receive a paycheck each week and where they learn communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills. Intern assignments support MDPROS operations and recreation staff, and assignments rotate every eight weeks to increase exposure to a variety of job opportunities, mentors and supervisors. Participants are referred to the program by MDC Juvenile Services Department, MDC Public School counselors and by park managers. The Fit2Lead curriculum leverages teachable moments in sports and physically active recreation to introduce and hone life skills to reduce risk and promote resilience. “Our hope is that it inspires kids to seek out other options when making decisions,” says Cathy Burgos, the MDC Department of Juvenile Services Division director of operations. “Through the program, participants are being exposed to something different and learning from productive adults who are instilling in them that they have something to lose.” Youth begin each afternoon session practicing mindfulness through guided breathing and imagery. Park staff hired specifically for the Fit2Lead program lead the lessons and include engaging/hands-on activities and team-oriented games, using sports equipment and art supplies, to teach and reinforce the target skills for that unit. The program averages 34 youth per site with a staff-to-child ratio of 10:1 or less. This allows for an intimate, safe setting, with repeated exposure to consistent mentors, peer groups and messaging, where youth can learn and can express themselves through enrichment workshops and journaling. “If the kid is in our parks, [they’re] off the streets. Being in the program teaches them alternatives to fighting,” adds Wayne Silvestro, parks recreation leader for Fit2Lead. Implications of Fit2Lead and Next Steps A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrates a strong relationship between Fit2Lead implementation among at-risk youth and changes in neighborhood youth violence statistics over two years. Findings from this study have important implications for park systems and other community-based programs aiming to reduce youth violence. This work builds on a growing body of evidence, demonstrating that park systems have immense capacity as vital health resources in our communities to promote our mental and physical health. “At Miami-Dade Parks, with the support of the Chil

Some Key Findings from a Recent Fit2Lead Study Key findings from recent research on the relationship between Fit2Lead implementation among at-risk youth and changes in neighborhood youth violence statistics in MDC, Florida over two years were published in the American Journal of Public Health (https://tinyurl.com/y64kqnly) and include: After two years of program implementation, juvenile arrests declined significantly more in Zip Codes where the Fit2Lead program was offered compared with Zip Codes matched by baseline crime, and neighborhood sociodemographics (age, gender, race/ethnicity, single-parent households and poverty) where the program was not offered. After two years of program implementation, there were 166 fewer arrests per 10,000 population in Zip Codes where the program was versus was not offered. Similar significant arrest declines were also found within a halfmile radius of MDPROS park sites that offered Fit2Lead compared with another youth program. MDPROS parks that offered other youth programs but were within 0.5–1 mile of a Fit2Lead program showed decreases in youth arrest rates, in contrast to farther distances, which showed no change or even an increase in juvenile arrest rates.

dren’s Trust, the Parks Foundation and other partners, we ensure that every child in our community is given the necessary tools to reach her or his greatest potential,” says Maria I. Nardi, director of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department. “Our Fit2Lead program provides essential opportunities for teenagers from underserved communities to achieve academic excellence, develop leadership abilities, be inspired to attend college, learn a trade and pursue careers. Our goal is to continue to expand the reach of parks programs like this, to provide kids with the life skills and tools to become productive members of our community and fulfill their dreams.” Detailed references for this article are available at www. nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2019/November/ the-fit2lead-program. Emily M. D’Agostino, DrPH, is Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Family Medicine and Community Health, Duke University School of Medicine, (emily.m.dagostino@duke.edu). Stacy Frazier, Ph.D., is Professor in the Clinical Science Program in Child and Adolescent Psychology, Florida International University, (slfrazi@fiu.edu). Eric Hansen, MPA, is Chief of Recreation Programs and Services for Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Dept., (eric.hansen@miamidade.gov). Sarah E. Messiah, Ph.D., is a Professor and Director, Center for Pediatric Population Health, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, (sarah.e.messiah@uth.tmc.edu).

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Parks & Recreation



NRPA Capitol Hill Day Advocacy rounds out the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference By Kate Clabaugh, MSW


ollowing the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, NRPA’s Public Policy team and some 50 conference attendees stormed the halls of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Friday, September 27, to advocate on behalf of park and recreation priorities. It proved to be a timely event given that Congress was in the throes of final appropriations decisions for Fiscal Year 2020 with a September 30 deadline looming. A few of our members were lucky enough to get some facetime with their members of Congress, but everyone met with the staff of their senators and representative. Together, we accomplished approximately 50 meetings in just three hours, and our ask was clear — protect and strengthen the conservation, health and social equity efforts of park and recreation agencies. Specifically, we asked Congress to preserve our nation’s public spaces and ensure access to health and wellness opportunities for all by:

Nutrition Sponsoring the Summer Meals Act (S. 1908/ H.R. 2818) in or18

Parks & Recreation

der to strengthen summer meal sites, encourage new ones to open, and increase meals and children served. If included in the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, this bill would provide an investment in transportation, streamline administrative paperwork, allow

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sites to serve an additional meal and align site-location eligibility to match that of several federal educational grants.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081/H.R. 3195). This legislation will ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is fully funded. If passed, this bill will provide for more state assistance program projects that benefit every congressional district in the country.

Active Transportation Increasing funding for the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside as Congress begins consideration

of the surface transportation reauthorization. This program funds bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, which benefits and provides access to parks and open space.

Appropriations Supporting the following funding levels for fiscal year 2020: • Fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund state assistance program at $140 million. • Fund the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program (21st CCLC) at $1.322 billion, the only federal funding stream to support summer and afterschool learning programs. • Fund the Youth Mentoring Grant managed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquen-

cy Prevention (OJJDP) at the Department of Justice at $100 million. • Fund the CDC’s Arthritis Program at $12 million to begin rebuilding the lost funding from the past three years and to begin expanding the reach of the program. From everyone at NRPA and on behalf of all our members, we want to thank those who participated in our day on Capitol Hill. We are truly grateful for your advocacy. Without the frontline people and stories from back home, members of Congress and their staff would not be able to truly appreciate all the work that is done every day by your agencies and how critical federal programs and funding are to those efforts. Thank you.

Without the frontline people and stories from back home, members of Congress and their staff would not be able to truly appreciate all the work that is done every day by your agencies and how critical federal programs and funding are to those efforts. Disappointed to have missed NRPA’s Capitol Hill Day? Become a Park Champion and learn how you can advocate for park and recreation policy priorities. Email advocacy@nrpa.org to learn more! Kate Clabaugh, MSW, is NRPA’s Director of Government Affairs (kclabaugh@nrpa.org).

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ADA Accommodation Claim by Terminated Recreation Employee By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.


n the case of Schiller v. Northern Suburban Special Recreation District, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55380 (N.D. Ill. 4/1/2019), plaintiff Gabrielle Schiller alleged the defendant Northern Suburban Special Recreation District (NSSRD) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when her employment was terminated.

Facts of the Case NSSRD offers recreation opportunities to people with disabilities. In May 2014, NSSRD hired Schiller as a site coordinator. In January 2016, Schiller became a program leader II, and later, a recreation specialist – adult. NSSRD’s job description for the recreation specialist position states that its function is to be “responsible for the coordination and implementation of safe, high-quality recreation services for individuals with disabilities.” The essential duties of the rec20 Parks & Recreation

reation specialist job included directing leadership of recreation programs and overnight trips for individuals of all ages with disabilities and leading assigned programs for individuals of all ages with disabilities. The job would also require “adapting to changes in all aspects of the job, including assigned tasks, scheduling and new or unforeseen circumstances, as well as “sitting, standing, bending, stooping, and walking for prolonged periods.” From Monday, August 15 through Friday, August 19, 2016,

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NSSRD held an overnight camp for adolescents at Camp Duncan. Schiller and another recreation specialist – youth, Emily Vermeer, were scheduled to be the program leaders for Camp Duncan, but Vermeer was excused from attending the trip because she was pregnant. On August 9, 2016, Schiller’s supervisor, Jerry Barton, told Schiller that Vermeer would not be attending the Camp Duncan trip, and thus, Schiller would be the trip leader. During this meeting, Schiller said she told Barton that she struggled with stress, anxiety, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and that standing on her feet for extended periods of time made her weak. Schiller said she told Barton she was concerned about the trip be-

ing understaffed and was uncomfortable about there not being another full-time staff member present because she had never been to Camp Duncan. Schiller said Barton agreed to “send a full-time staff member with her to the camp during the day and overnight, that she could call Vermeer and Barton when needed.” In addition, Schiller was told she would have the “coleadership” of the two other employees going on the trip: an intern, Hailey Haas, and a part-time staff member Braselina Sabini. Ultimately, Schiller told Barton she was not worried about leading Camp Duncan. After this meeting, Barton sent an email to the human resources manager (Darleen Negrillo) asking whether NSSRD had “any information about medical conditions” that could interfere with Schiller’s job responsibilities. The email also said Schiller had mentioned (regarding Camp Duncan) that she “becomes weak when standing for extended periods of time” and that “fatigue and stress can weaken her.” Barton told Negrillo that Schiller “did not appear to be concerned about working the trip, but I need to know if these are things that need to be taken into consideration moving forward.” Negrillo responded that Schiller did not have “any restrictions on file” and “knows her limitations and would let them know if there was a concern.” Barton did not send another full-time staff member to Camp Duncan. However, NSSRD’s manager of operations, Becca Zajler, Zajler’s supervisor, Candace Cunningham, and another staff member, Mary Kate Murphy, attended portions of the trip. Barton and Murphy were also available by phone. At the time of the Camp Duncan trip, NSSRD had a policy that stated: “During the program, the Program Leader/Site Coordinator will give medication to participants.” However, on August 15, 2016, the first day of the camp, Schiller delegated medication distribution to Haas and Sabini. Moreover, though Schiller said she gave instructions to the appropriate staff member, a camp participant with a gluten restriction ate gluten the first day of camp. At 11:30 p.m., Schiller called Vermeer, rather than the on-call staff member, regarding the gluten issue. On August 16, 2016, the second day of the camp, Schiller hyperventilated, cried, lost feeling in her hands and feet, had multiple panic attacks, decreased mobility, difficulty speaking and increased pain. At 8:50 a.m. that day, Cunningham and Zajler went to the camp and saw intern Haas administering medication to participants.

Schiller “acknowledged that she was the assigned leader of the trip and said she felt confident that she could lead the trip safely and successfully.” Cunningham and Zajler told Schiller that she was the leader of the trip, and as such, “needed to be overseeing dietary restrictions and medication,” delegating behavior management issues, and calling a designated on-call staff member when there were problems. Schiller “acknowledged that she was the assigned leader of the trip and said she felt confident that she could lead the trip safely and successfully.” Later that day, Zajler told Schiller that Sabini would leave the next morning because the participant assigned to Sabini was leaving the camp, but the participant’s aide would remain. Schiller told Zajler that she was frustrated, felt unprepared for the trip, and was being pulled in too many directions as leader. Schil-

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ler also said she knew other staff on the trip were being questioned about her leadership, which hurt her feelings. Ultimately, however, Schiller said she could lead the trip successfully without Sabini. When Zajler returned from Camp Duncan, she told NSSRD’s executive director (Craig Culp) that she and Cunningham had coached Schiller on her performance.

“The ADA prohibits certain employers from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to the discharge of employees and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” At 5:30 p.m. the same day, Schiller called Culp and told him she had been disrespected by Zajler and Cunningham. In addition, she told Culp she “was confused as to the plans for Camp Duncan,” and “could not run the camp without further support.” Culp admitted Schiller told him she could not stay at the camp because she had been disrespected by other staff members. After this interaction, Schiller left the camp and Culp decided to terminate her. He terminated her employment with NSSRD the next day.

Summary Judgment In response to Schiller’s complaint, NSSRD claimed Schiller had failed to show any legal basis for her ADA claim under the circumstances of this case. NSSRD, therefore, brought a pretrial motion asking the federal district court to issue a sum22 Parks & Recreation

mary judgment in NSSPR’s favor. To prevail on a summary judgment motion, which would effectively dismiss Schiller’s lawsuit without a trial, NSSRD had to show that there was “no genuine dispute as to any material fact” to support Schiller’s ADA claim. If so, NSSRD would be entitled to a judgment without going to trial. As noted by the court, summary judgment is appropriate only when the entire pretrial record establishes that no reasonable jury could find a legal basis for Schiller’s ADA claim.

Americans with Disabilities Act As cited by the federal district court: “The ADA prohibits certain employers from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to the discharge of employees and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment” (42 U.S.C. § 12112(a)). Moreover, the court noted that “discrimination” within the context of the ADA includes “not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability” (42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A)). To overcome NSSRD’s motion for summary judgment on her failure-to-accommodate claim, the federal district court found Schiller “must offer evidence that suggests she is a qualified individual with a disability, defendant was aware of the disability, and defendant failed to reasonably accommodate that disability.” NSSRD argued it was entitled to summary judgment because “the record does not support any of these elements.”

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Essential Job Functions As cited by the federal district court, within the context of the ADA: “Plaintiff is a qualified individual with a disability if she can, ‘with or without reasonable accommodation,’ perform the essential functions of her job” (42 U.S.C. § 12111(8)). To “determine whether a task is an essential function,” the federal district court would consider, but not be limited to, the following factors: …evidence of the employer’s judgment of a position, written job descriptions prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, the work experience of past incumbents of the job, the work experience of current incumbents in similar jobs, and the amount of time spent on the job performing the function. In this case, NSSRD claimed Schiller was “unable to perform the essential function of leading recreation programs.” As noted by the federal district court, it was undisputed that NSSRD’s job description listed the “function” of the recreation specialist as being “responsible for the coordination and implementation of safe, high-quality recreation services for individuals with disabilities of all ages” and listed “direct leadership of recreation programs and overnight trips for individuals with disabilities of all ages” as an essential duty. In response, Schiller claimed leadership was not an essential job function within the context of the ADA because NSSRD “sometimes excused staff from the assigned responsibility of leading assigned programs due to illness.” The federal district

court disagreed. According to the court, “occasionally excusing the performance of a function does not mean the function is not essential.” Moreover, the court acknowledged that because “not all employees perform at a particular time all the essential job functions does not make those functions non-essential.” In this instance, the court found “the only evidence with respect to the essential functions of the Recreation Specialist position was the undisputed job description.” As a result, the court determined “leading recreation programs is an essential function of the job.” Schiller also claimed she could have performed this essential function for the recreation spe-

cialist position “with the accommodation of a co-leader.” In response, NSSRD argued “assigning a co-leader is not a reasonable accommodation because doing so would just shift the leadership function to another employee.” The federal district court agreed. In the opinion of the court, it would not be a reasonable accommodation required by the ADA: “To have another employee perform a position’s essential function, and to a certain extent perform the job for the employee.” That being said, the court also found sharing responsibility for a task was not “the same as reassigning it, and sharing tasks may be a reasonable accommodation.” In particular, the court

noted: “Circumstances might exist when employees working in teams are able to share duties among themselves, so that such sharing might be a form of reasonable accommodation.” Moreover, given that NSSRD originally assigned two recreation specialists, Schiller and Vermeer, as program leaders for the Camp Duncan trip, in the opinion of the federal district court, “a jury might find co-leadership to be a reasonable accommodation in this case.” Further, the court acknowledged: “The reasonableness of a requested accommodation is a question of fact.” (Unlike questions of law decided by judges, questions of fact are typically left for a jury to decide at trial.)

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Qualified Disabled Individual

Interactive Accommodation Process

Under the circumstances of this case, the federal district court found the pretrial record had also raised “an issue of material fact” as to whether NSSRD knew about Schiller’s alleged disabilities.

NSSRD had also argued Schiller had failed to sufficiently allege a violation of the ADA because she had “stopped engaging in the interactive process to determine an appropriate accommodation.” As cited by the federal district court, once an employee has disclosed that he/she has a disability, “the ADA requires an employer to engage with the employee in an interactive process to determine the appropriate accommodation under the circumstances.” In this instance, NSSRD claimed the required interactive process had begun at the August 9, 2016, meeting Schiller had with Barton, but broke down when Schiller “failed to tell Zajler and Cunningham about her disabilities and request an accommodation when she met with them at Camp Duncan.” The federal district court, however, found the pretrial record indicated, “the interactive process started and ended on August 9, 2016.” Moreover, at this meeting, the court found evidence that Barton had effectively granted Schiller’s accommodation request “to assign another full-time staff member to the camp, allow Schiller to call him and Vermeer when needed, and have Haas and Sabini act as Schiller’s co-leaders, and Barton agreed to do so.” Given evidence in the pretrial record that “the parties agreed to an accommodation” and NSSRD failed to provide it, the federal district court found Schiller had indeed “raised a genuine issue of fact,” which, if proven at trial, would establish her ADA failure-to-accommodate claim.

Under the circumstances of this case, the federal district court found the pretrial record had also raised “an issue of material fact” as to whether NSSRD knew about Schiller’s alleged disabilities. In this instance, Schiller claimed NSSRD knew of her alleged disabilities because “she told Barton, a week before the Camp Duncan trip, that she struggled with stress, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue and that standing on her feet for extended periods of time made her weak.” In response, NSSRD argued Barton’s alleged knowledge was irrelevant because Executive Director Culp was “the decision maker behind the actions that Plaintiff [Schiller] alleges to be discriminatory.” The federal district court, however, found undisputed facts in the pretrial record that Barton was Schiller’s supervisor and NSSRD offered “no evidence that suggests employees were required to go to Culp, rather than their supervisor, to seek an accommodation.” As a result, the federal district court held Schiller had sufficiently alleged “a triable fact issue” that NSSRD knew about her alleged disabilities. 24 Parks & Recreation

claimed that NSSRD’s termination of her employment violated the ADA. As cited by the federal district court, to overcome NSSRD’s motion for summary judgment, Schiller would have to produce evidence of the following if her ADA claim was to proceed to trial: (1) she is disabled within the meaning of the ADA, (2) she is qualified to perform the essential functions of her job either with or without reasonable accommodation, and (3) she has suffered from an adverse employment decision because of her disability. NSSRD argued there was no causal connection between Schiller’s disability and her termination from employment at NSSRD. The federal district court disagreed. Based on the following facts, the federal district court found Schiller had produced sufficient evidence to create “a genuine issue as to whether defendant terminated plaintiff because of her disabilities”: (1) when Zajler visited Camp Duncan, plaintiff told Zajler that she was struggling with anxiety; (2) Zajler reported on the Camp Duncan visit to Culp; (3) later the same day, when plaintiff called Culp, she told him she would have to leave the camp ‘due to her health concerns’ unless she got more support, and he told her she was being ‘selfish’; (4) Culp asked Barton, who knew about plaintiff ’s alleged disabilities, whether he thought plaintiff should be fired; and (5) though defendant’s policies permit the use of progressive discipline, Culp did not consider discipline other than termination for plaintiff.

Disability-Based Termination


In her complaint, Schiller had also

In her ADA claim, Schiller also

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alleged NSSRD terminated her employment in retaliation for her request for a reasonable accommodation. According to the court, evidence that an ADA accommodation request prompted the retaliatory termination of an employee could include the following: (1) suspicious timing; (2) ambiguous statements or behavior towards other employees in the protected group; (3) evidence, statistical or otherwise, that similarly situated employees outside of the protected group systematically received better treatment; and (4) evidence that the employer offered a pretextual reason for an adverse employment action. In this instance, the federal district court found the following facts alleged in Schiller’s ADA claim were “sufficient to create a triable fact issue on plaintiff ’s retaliation claim”: Here, the record shows that Culp: (1) terminated plaintiff eight days after she requested an accommodation; (2) gave another employee who was accused of stealing a participant’s money, but had not asked for an accommodation, the opportunity to resign rather than be terminated; (3) told plaintiff she was being selfish when she said she had to leave the camp for health reasons and (4) did not consider any form of discipline other than termination for plaintiff. Having found “genuine issues of material fact as to plaintiff ’s ADA claims” in the pretrial record, the federal district court denied NSSRD’s motion for summary judgment. As a result, Schiller would have an opportunity to proceed to trial and have a jury determine

whether she could prove NSSRD violated the ADA when it allegedly failed to provide an agreed on accommodation under the circumstances of this case.

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

Parks and Recreation as Community Health and Wellness Hubs By Lesha Spencer-Brown, MPH, CPH


he concept of a “community hub” is certainly not a new one! However, it has received attention and gained significant traction over the past several years, most notably, by several library systems across the country that are reinventing themselves to become social services hubs that offer a variety of social services to meet the needs of the community. Local parks and recreation, being the cornerstone of nearly every community — places where everyone can go to be active, healthier, connect with nature and the community as a whole — are also uniquely positioned to serve as health and wellness hubs in communities across the country.

A “hub” is defined as “the effective center of an activity, region network.” And by extension, a “community hub” is a central gathering place and access point for a variety of programs and services — such as wellness programs, healthcare, childcare, education, employment and other social services, cultural and recreation opportunities, among others. Typically, the ma-

jority of community hubs respond to the health and wellness needs of the community and can be established in many different settings, including healthcare, churches, libraries, schools and community centers. While the range of services offered by community hubs may look different from community to community, they all serve as a gateway to the community and are essential because they:

The Baylor Scott & White Family Health Center (physician clinic) and the Baylor Scott & White Health and Wellness Center are housed within the Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center in South Dallas, Texas.

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What Is a Community Hub?

• Showcase the range of services available in the community, thereby resulting in “easy-tofind” community resources • Provide year-round or pop-up services in an accessible location or, alternatively, serve as a referral point for services • Serve as gathering places for community members and visitors, which result in improved community connectedness and inclusion • Promote results-driven, multisector partnerships among community businesses and organizations • Improve the efficiency, affordability and sustainability of community services from the pooling of community resources, a significant benefit to under-resourced and underserved communities Many local park and recreation agencies are already positioned as community health and wellness hubs and offer a wide range of programs and services, including access to healthy foods by way of farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, older adult congregate and homedelivered meal programs, as well as afterschool and out-of-school time meal programs for youth; unstructured and structured physical activity opportunities, including evidence-based chronic disease prevention and management programs; social, emotional and mental health services and opportunities; educational and enrichment programs; transportation assistance; social services

assistance and referrals, as well as connections to healthcare services.

Establishing Health and Wellness Hubs in Dallas County, Texas A few weeks ago, I visited the Baylor Scott & White Health and Wellness Center (BSW HWC) (https:// tinyurl.com/y33qz8kn) in South Dallas. This center, established in 2010, is the result of a public-private partnership between Baylor Scott and White Health (BSWH) and the Dallas Park & Recreation Department to proactively address residents’ health and wellness needs, particularly those with high rates of chronic diseases, as well as frequent emergency department utilization and inpatient hospitalizations. Its basis was the Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, which was reconstructed to include a family health clinic that includes such assets as walking trails, fitness rooms and athletic fields. For this hub, access to clinical care, nutritious foods, health education and engagement in physical activity are the major priorities that have been identified to address the multiple chronic conditions that adversely affect the health of this community. BSWH or Dallas Park & Recreation staff greet you as you enter the center, and a team of healthcare professionals, which comprises a physician, nurse practitioner, behavioral health therapists, social workers, medical aides, nutritionists and community health workers, serves the family health clinic. For many years, the recreation center was underutilized, but since the opening of the reconstructed health and wellness center, more than 5,500 community residents have become members and have participated in one or more education and wellness services, including nutrition education and cooking demonstrations, afterschool and summer-meal programs, fitness classes, a farm stand and bible study. In addition, the center offers an internship program through which more than 178 students exploring public health careers have been trained in nutrition and community outreach. “The repurposing of the Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center has changed how we do programming, as well as the types of programs and services offered throughout the city,” says Crystal Ross, assistant director for Dallas Park & Recreation Department. The model created and implemented there has shown significant improvements in the health of the community and both organizations, alongside their other community

partners, have already begun discussions for the transformation of an additional six recreation centers to health and wellness hubs. While the transformation of local park and recreation centers is not feasible in many communities, the concept of being a central access point where a variety of programs and services can be obtained, or from which community members can learn and be referred to other community resources, is and will continue to be instrumental as the health and wellness needs of an increasingly diverse population continue to grow — and funding for health and wellness and social services remain at level funding or is reduced. The opportunities for local park and recreation agencies to continue (or begin to) position themselves as community hubs are endless. This position is a critical role in building economic and social cohesion in communities across the country!

PARKS & RECREA Salsbury Indu

Lesha Spencer-Brown, MPH, CPH, is NRPA’s Health and Wellness Senior Program Manager (lspencer@nrpa.org).

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With seed funding from NRPA’s Great Urban Parks grant, this neglected urban lot was transformed into a world-class park, featuring nature-based solutions to buffer stormwater flooding and urban heat island.

Henrietta Lacks Park Inspires Bright Future for Baltimore Community Green infrastructure transformation brings big changes to the neighborhood By Jennifer Fulcher and Wende David


ust a couple years ago, Henrietta Lacks Educational Park — formerly known as Ambrose Kennedy Park — sat unrecognizable as a park. Primarily a dumping ground and a place for illicit activity, its main benefit was as an alley that people living in Baltimore’s Johnston Square neighborhood used as a cut-through to a nearby school. But, behind the cracked asphalt, faded paint, overgrown vegetation and dilapidated structures, a few local leaders saw possibility. About six years ago, longtime neighborhood resident Regina Hammond attended a community meeting that inspired her to make a difference. “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. There was no investment coming into this neighborhood,” she explains. Hammond started learning how to organize people to create change, eventually becoming president of the Rebuild

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Johnston Square Association. She and her husband, Keith Hammond, set out to reclaim the park space for the community. Work began with local volunteers gathering to make small improvements to the park: picking up litter, cutting back the overgrowth and repainting the basketball courts. However, the volunteers lacked one thing: funding.

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Opportunity Knocks with NRPA Great Urban Parks Grant The opportunity to make a real difference came in 2016 when NRPA announced its very first round of Great Urban Parks grant funding aimed at improving environmental and social outcomes in underserved communities through green stormwater infrastructure in parks. Parks & People Foundation applied for the grant and received $437,500 as one of four grantees across the country. The Baltimore-based nonprofit organization began working with Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks (BCRP), which owns the land, as well as numerous civic groups,

The green stormwater infrastructure components at this revitalized park capture and filter pollutants from approximately 230,000 gallons of water each year.

including Rebuild Johnston Square Association, to re-envision the park. “Great things are happening, and the possibilities are just endless here,” Hammond says. With the NRPA Great Urban Parks grant, Parks & People led the park revitalization effort with green stormwater infrastructure components integrated throughout the design. Strategically engineered landscaping planted with native grasses and hundreds of other plants and trees replaced the broken asphalt. Gentle slopes guide stormwater to a large bioretention area designed to slow stormwater and capture runoff before it can transport pollutants to the Chesapeake Bay. In total, the park captures about 230,000 gallons of stormwater a year and helps prevent nuisance flooding in the surrounding neighborhood. It also includes a splash pad, walking paths, automated lighting features, resurfaced basketball courts, bathrooms and an updated swimming pool.

Ripple Effect of Improvements The NRPA grant started a ripple effect in the park that has spread into the surrounding community. “We activated the community,” says Terrell Williams, IAF/BUILD organizer. “It has been quite a wonderful, incredible, complex journey.” That activation has unleashed support through other funding, new volunteers and new policies, and has inspired nearly $100 million in renovation investments in the surrounding neighborhood through rebuilding homes and creating business areas, Williams adds. Civic groups and neighborhood associations, like Rebuild Johnston Square Association, are overseeing this economic stimulus to avoid displacement of current residents and encourage home ownership.

Generating Community Interest and Support According to Steve Preston, park construction and design manager for Parks & People, the mixture of funding and support provided the creative solution this area needed. The neighborhood previously had been categorized as not worth the financial risk of investment. Once NRPA showed up, however, other funds and supporters followed, Preston notes. And, after completing revitalization of the park, the community organizers finally had the pressure and partnerships in place to activate the government to demolish nearby abandoned housing to expand the park. Throughout the entire project, Parks & People involved the surrounding community. Preston brought design ideas to neighborhood meetings, and residents identified which features they liked, as well as other components they wanted the park to include. Now that it is complete, community members and steady volunteers from The 6th Branch, a military veterans organization that transforms vacant lots throughout Baltimore, maintain the space and the green stormwater infrastructure facilities. Approximately 30,000 hours by more than 700 volunteers have contributed to the park’s development and upkeep. A grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust also supports ongoing maintenance through a training program for community volunteers led by Blue Water Baltimore.

Park Ownership and Pride Partners initially were concerned about vandalism, but, after being open for more than a year, nothing has been destroyed or damaged. “The neighborhood respects it. People waited their whole lives, decades, for a space like this, and now that they have it, they treasure it,” Preston says. “This is now a world-class park,” Preston affirms. It helps connect people to water by teaching them about stormwater and the importance of water resources. The volunteers who maintain the park are also trained to recognize what native plants are, which help to capture stormwater. “[It] has really been a great connector to the environment for people otherwise isolated from the water downtown,” he adds. These neighbors and families rely on Henrietta Lacks Park for a safe play space among trees and nature, a gathering place for social celebrations, an inclusive outdoor recreation zone to stay active and a nature-based solution to localized flooding and pollution. That’s why in Johnston Square neighborhood and other historically neglected communities across the country, parks matter. Check out this Parks & People Foundation video of the Ambrose Kennedy/Henrietta Lacks Education Park transformation: https:// youtu.be/5oef1K_7HZg. Jennifer Fulcher is NRPA’s Communication Manager (jnguyen@nrpa.org). Wende David is NRPA’s Senior Conservation Program Manager (wdavid@nrpa.org).

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Young people enjoying Easterwood Sandtown Park.

A Rising Tide: Social Equity in Baltimore’s Parks By Zolna Russell, PLA, LEED AP, SITES AP; Kate Brower and Steven Preston


altimore is a diverse, vibrant city, defined by many neighborhoods of distinct character and pride. More than 600,000 citizens are served by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks (BCRP), which is supported by a variety of friends groups and nonprofit organizations, such as the Parks & People Foundation. The city’s park system provides residents with more than 4,600 acres of natural and recreational assets. Frederick Law Olmsted designed it in 1906 — his sons updated it in 1924 — and it includes several “anchor” parks, like Druid Hill, Patterson and Leakin Parks, and many smaller parks, each providing important access to nature and recreation for Baltimoreans.

Assessing Equity Baltimore, like many cities, has a long history of inequitable distribu30 Parks & Recreation

tion of resources. The park system is no exception. Historic policies and events, including real estate redlining, the decline of the streetcars, white flight, the 1968 race riots and inequitable investment in minority communities, have resulted in significant pockets of poverty and disinvestment on the city’s west and east sides. A map of the city depicts a ‘black butterfly’ and ‘white L,’ illustrating the distribution of the city’s racial composition. This racial distribu-

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tion — overlaid with the city’s park system, walkability map, heat island, vacancies and crime rates — highlights the correlation between these data sets. The most vacant, violent areas and hottest temperatures are directly related to a lack of walkable, quality park space. Today, BCRP and other city agencies are working to establish goals and metrics to ensure all neighborhoods receive equitable investment. This does not mean that every place receives the same investment or amenities, but, rather, that all residents have access to similar resources throughout the city. The following six metrics have been established to assess the success of various parks:



Investment - Is the park in a neighborhood that has not received previous investment, which can be defined by the amount of funding, types of facilities funded, whether it serves the entire city or local residents and how much investment is planned over time? Constituents - Whom does the park serve? Is it a local or citywide park? Has the community identified a need and participated in the planning process? Amenities - Does the park provide amenities that are not found nearby or provide facilities within a quarter mile of home? Access - Can residents access the park easily and safely? Barriers, both physical and perceived, can define access. People may not feel comfortable or safe crossing busy streets or traveling through different neighborhoods. Programming - Is there programming in the park? Does it resonate with residents? Are there additional opportunities for activities? Catalyst for Future Investment Have park improvements inspired investments, such as access (bike lanes or sidewalks), new housing or retail or renovations to the existing urban fabric surrounding the park?

Evaluation Three parks within Baltimore City — Florence Cummings Park, Canton Waterfront Park and Henrietta Lacks Educational Park — have been evaluated using the aforementioned metrics to demonstrate how each park will serve the goal of social equity: Florence Cummins Park A master plan for the next 10 years recently was developed for this park, located in the Westport Neighbor

hood of South Baltimore. With the help of the community, a program was established that included playgrounds, a refurbished and lighted basketball court, and a baseball and multipurpose field, anchored by a community pavilion, grill area and splash pad. This park, with funding for the master plan and implementation provided by South Baltimore Gateway Partnership and BCRP, ranks high on the equity metrics. A Kaboom Playground has already been installed and phased implementation of other master plan elements will begin soon, creating important recreational resources for this under-invested community. Canton Waterfront Park While Canton is one of Baltimore’s wealthiest neighborhoods, this park provides equity by being one of few green public waterfront parks in a part of the city that is densely populated and impacted by heat island. A robust community process ensured that its long-term improvement will serve all city residents as well as locals. The planning process included improvements to park access for bicyclists and pedestrians, especially families with young children, as well as infrastructure for special events, a playground and connection to the Rail-to-Trail network. Henrietta Lacks Educational Park Formerly known as Ambrose Kennedy, this park was a neglected 1.75 acres in the Johnston Square Community. Today, Henrietta Lacks Educational Park is a model for 21st century parks in Baltimore. Its reinvestment was sparked by Rebuild Johnston Square, which rallied partners to make drastic changes to revive the heart of the community. In 2017,

Focusing the equity lens on the development of new parks, maintenance of existing parks and programming will help Baltimore rise toward prosperity. Parks & People collaborated with BCRP, Rebuild Johnston Square, BUILD and The 6th Branch to re-envision the park. These efforts resulted in the creation of new walking paths, stormwater management, landscaping, bathrooms to serve the existing pool, a splash pad, new basketball courts and lighting for the park. It now serves more than 11,000 people living within walking distance, including students of the adjacent Johnston Square Elementary School and residents of Latrobe Homes, a 701-unit public housing project.

Rising Toward Prosperity Equity cannot be achieved without the restoration of funding for the parks department to historic levels. Since the 1960s, park funding has decreased by 60 percent; yet, the city has more parkland and constituent services needs. As in many cities, parks suffer from deferred or lack of maintenance and aging infrastructure. A new model for park funding is needed to address equity issues within Baltimore’s park system. Focusing the equity lens on the development of new parks, maintenance of existing parks and programming will help Baltimore rise toward prosperity. Zolna Russell, PLA, LEED AP, SITES AP, is Senior Landscape Architect, Director of Sustainability for Floura Teeter Landscape Architects (zrussell@flourateeter.com). Kate Brower is the Design Planner II, Capital Division Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks (kate.brower@baltimorecity.gov). Steven Preston is the Parks Construction and Design Manager for Parks & People Foundation (steven.preston@parksandpeople.org).

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Time to Play! The 2019 Parks Build Community dedication and celebration By Suzanne Nathan


ach year, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) conducts a complete park makeover in partnership with park equipment manufacturers, service providers and community organizations within the city hosting the NRPA Annual Conference. On Sunday, September 22, NRPA and the Baltimore City of Recreation and Parks (BCRP) reopened Catherine Street Park with a dedication and celebration. Hundreds gathered to try the new swings, slides and other playground equipment, a new basketball court and new fitness equipment. As the temperature reached into the 90s, the new splash pad was a big hit with families, as were the bubbles blown to celebrate the reopening. Speakers at the dedication included Baltimore Mayor Jack Young; Harry Spikes, representa-

tive from the office of Congressman Elijah Cummings; Meshelle’ Johnson, representative from the office of Senator Chris Van Hollen; Council President Brandon Scott; Councilman John T. Bullock; BCRP Executive Director Reginald Moore; NRPA President and CEO Kristine Stratton and Derwin Hannah, community leader and president of the friends group advocating for Catherine Street Park.

The event was capped off with energized dance routines by a local cheer team to music performed by a high school band. “The Parks Build Community dedication was the perfect way to begin our 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore,” says Stratton. “NRPA was honored to work with BCRP and the community to organize the renovation of such a beloved park. Thanks to our industry and nonprofit partners, BCRP and community leaders, like Derwin Hannah, this park renovation was made possible.” Hannah is a community leader and volunteer who has been directing the programming for and care of Catherine Street Park for more than 17 years, along with his wife, Denetria, and sister, Drucilla Williams. He drives a truck at night for a living and visits the park every day to provide the constant care and leadership it needs. His commitment and work with BCRP led to the development of a park renovation plan. “Parks are so important to our kids and our community. This renovation will help show we are here to stay,” says Hannah. “On behalf of the community, we’re grateful.”

Children play on the splash pad at the grand reopening of Baltimore’s Catherine Street Park during NRPA’s Parks Build Communty dedication ceremony. 32 Parks & Recreation

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Donors and organizations involved in the 2019 PBC project include:

Kristine Stratton, NRPA’s president and CEO (left), and Baltimore Mayor Jack Young (right) at the new Catherine Street Park.

In 2018, when Catherine Street Park was selected for the Parks Build project, BCRP expedited the park renovation plan. BCRP is funding portions of the renovation, like the newly constructed building, with the help of a grant from Target Corporation, but plans were updated to include donations, such as site amenities, playground equipment, a play fountain, basketball posts/backboard/goals, basketball court sealcoat surfacing, baseball field bleachers, basketball player benches, picnic tables, a drinking fountain and outdoor fitness equipment. In addition, local businesses have provided generous donations that include funding for park and recreational services and equipment for programs. The 2019 Parks Build Community project also includes something new and exciting that no other Parks Build project has had before

— research. Thanks to funding from BCI Burke Playgrounds and ACTIVE Network, NRPA is working with North Carolina State University College of Natural Resources and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University to measure the impact the renovated Catherine Street Park has on the community. The research will explore three potential impacts: health (physical activity), social (socialization and public safety) and economic (any change in local business activity). The data will be collected over a five-year period. Research began in December 2018 to establish a baseline using System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC). The SOPARC data collection takes place for approximately two weeks and will be done annually to quantify the community’s activity difference in Catherine Street Park over time. Concurrently, SOPARC data collection is taking place at another Baltimore park, which will be used as the control park, where no renovation is taking

• Active Network www.activenetwork.com • BCI Burke Playgrounds www.bciburke.com • California Sports Surfaces www.californiasportssurfaces.com • Dero www.dero.com • DuMor www.dumor.com • Epic Outdoor Cinema www.epicoutdoorcinema.com • GameTime www.gametime.com • Gared www.garedsports.com • Greenfields Outdoor Fitness www.gfoutdoorfitness.com • Johns Hopkins University www.jhu.edu • NC State University www.ncsu.edu • OpenSpace Radio www.nrpa.org/blog/Podcasts • Parks & Recreation magazine www.parksandrecreation.org • Physical Activity Research Center (PARC) www.paresearchcenter.org • Pilot Rock www.pilotrock.com • PlayCore www.playcore.com • Playworld www.playworld.com • Target Corporation corporate.target.com/ • Vortex www.vortex-intl.com

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Local community activist and park advocate Derwin Hannah speaks at the Parks Build Community dedication ceremony.

place. NRPA will receive raw data each year and, at the end of the five years, will produce a final report.

Parks Build Community is a national initiative demonstrating the transformative value of parks on the health and vitality of communities across the United States. These projects represent the transformative power of parks in communities and how they address NRPA’s Three Pillars — Health and Wellness, Conservation and Social Equity. The vision to build and revitalize parks as thriving gathering places for youth, families and adults is one shared by PBC partners and park and recreation professionals. To learn more about the Baltimore Parks Build Community project, watch the video at www.


nrpa.org/ParksBuildCommunity. Next year, NRPA will host a Parks Build Community project in Orlando, Florida, as the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference will be held there October 27–29. The PBC location has been selected and preparations are underway. To learn more about participating in the 2020 Parks Build Community project, contact Gina Mullins-Cohen, NRPA’s vice president of marketing, communications and publishing, at gcohen@nrpa.org.

Suzanne Nathan is NRPA’s Public Relations Manager (snathan@nrpa.org).



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Parks Matter Building community through stories in Baltimore By Lindsay Collins


ost people would readily agree that parks play a critical role in the physical, social and mental health of communities. They’ll even entertain the idea that they save lives, but they literally do and did for some residents of Paradise, California, the site of one of the deadliest California wildfires last November. The audience at this year’s Opening General Session in Baltimore listened intently as Jack Kardys, chair of the NRPA Board of Directors, told the story of how some residents were able to escape their homes and take shelter in a metal structure in the park, where they used water from hoses as a defense from the flames. “So, if you ever doubt that what you do as a park professional matters,” he says, “remember this story.” Parks and park professionals do matter, and it was a refrain echoed by Kristine Stratton, NRPA’s president and CEO, who shared her own experiences growing up as a “park and rec kid” in Maine (see more at www.nrpa.org/FullCircle), as well as the story of local community activist, Derwin Hannah, whose passion for parks and community developed from a childhood spent in his local park playing sports with friends. Then, as a parent in Baltimore, after noticing the lack of safe play spaces for children in his neighborhood, Hannah garnered support for a park renovation in his neighborhood to bring in the resources and amenities the community needed. “Derwin’s story is important because it symbolizes an opportunity for all of us,” says Stratton. “We must harness the passion in our communities — like Derwin’s — to not only support the good work we do now, but to stand with us to create a parks movement.” (Watch

the 2019 Parks Build Community project video at www.nrpa.org/ ParksBuildCommunity.) Stories are a powerful way to bring others into an experience, and attendees were enthralled by the stories of perseverance told by none other than Baltimore’s baseball legend and “Iron Man,” Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken, who is most famous for setting the record of most consecutive games played with a final total of 2,632 back-toback games over 16 years, shared how he was able to endure to provide numerous contributions to the Baltimore Orioles and to the game of baseball. Ultimately, he says, “it boils down to eight qualities: the right approach, a strong will to succeed, passion, love to compete, consistency, conviction, strength and life management. With the

right combination of these characteristics, anyone has the ability to persevere,” he believes. At the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference, attendees had countless opportunities to learn, network and brainstorm with other park and recreation professionals from across the country. In addition to the hundreds of education sessions offered, social events — such as the opening party (sponsored by GameTime), new member paint and sip social, golf tournament, 5K run and sunrise yoga — were available for attendees to get out and socialize and make the most of their time in Baltimore.

Disability rights activist Haben Girma delivers her keynote speech during the Closing General Session of the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference. W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 |

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And, the inspiration didn’t end with the Opening General Session. During the Closing General Session, disability rights activist and the first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, Haben Girma, awed the audience with her story of achievements, not despite her disabilities, but because of them. Girma emphasized that our differences as individuals, including disabilities, are not limita-

Women in Parks and Recreation During the opening reception, sponsored by GameTime at the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Stadium, roughly 100 of the 3,000 members of the recently formed Women in Parks and Recreation group, gathered on the field for an inaugural meeting and group photo. The group was established on Facebook this past July by Lakita Watson, executive director of Richland County (South Carolina) Recreation Commission and, since then, has grown quickly. According to the Facebook page, it “was created to meet the need for valuable collaboration and information sharing [among] women working in and supporting the parks, recreation and leisure services professions.” In a Facebook live video, Watson addressed the group, stating, “We as women in parks and recreation have so many great things going for us, and together we can do anything…I want to open up more doors for more women to be leaders in our field, so that’s what this page is about. It’s about giving back to those individuals who gave important [things] to me.” To learn more about the group, visit https://tinyurl.com/yycn5ts3.

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tions, but rather a force to drive innovation. “People with disabilities and their communities succeed when the community decides to dismantle digital, attitudinal and physical barriers,” Girma says, as she, through her interpreter and a keyboard, showed an audience how easy it was to participate in a Q&A session with her. To learn more, visit www.habengirma.com. A1 Chops, the Baltimore drumming duo of Timothy Fletcher and Malik Perry, took the energy level up a notch to close out the 2019 Annual Conference. They are committed to giving back to the community, traveling to Baltimore schools to inspire young kids to dream. The pair brought the audience to its feet with their high-energy drumming and the performance flair to match. To view the performance, visit the NRPA Facebook page (https://ti​ nyurl.com/y4vwfeen).

Exploring the Exhibit Hall As if being in the field of parks and recreation wasn’t already a perk, try experiencing the NRPA Annual Conference Exhibit Hall, where attendees are encouraged to swing, slide, climb, play, learn and interact at the booths of more than 400 exhibitors. This year’s winner of Best in Show for an island booth was Landscape Structures Inc. (LSI) (www.playlsi.com) for its display of the Super Netplex®, a floor-to-ceiling play structure with slides and climbing nets reaching 20 feet high. “The Super Netplex®

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includes a Spiral Belt Climber that winds its way from ground level up to a 12-foot high deck, giving kids with less lower body strength or mobility an easy way to access thrilling heights,” says Jill Dunning-Harris, marketing product manager for LSI. “The belt has a soft, grippy texture that is comfortable for walking, crawling or scooting and is durable to withstand rigorous play. Interior and exterior cables provide additional climbing routes to accommodate lots of kids at the same time.” The winner of the 2019 Best in Show for in-line booth was REI Coop (www.rei.com) for its unique design and visitor engagement. What initially drew the judges in was a simple chalkboard outside the booth, sporting a welcoming message to NRPA attendees — a small detail that showed the judges REI was not only there to showcase its products, but also to interact with park and recreation professionals to learn how REI can best serve the industry. For an inside look at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference Exhibit Hall, visit the NRPA Facebook page to view the tour (https://tinyurl.com/ y24r8dey).


Recognizing the Best in Parks and Recreation A celebratory atmosphere enlivened the ballroom during the Best of the Best ceremony held Wednesday night at the Baltimore Hilton, as the evening’s master of ceremonies, former NRPA board member Neelay Bhatt introduced the recipients. The following park and recreation professionals and agencies were recognized for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the field: Scholarships and Fellowships Student Scholarship • Kandice Newton • Kristen Sikorski Diversity Scholarship • Attiyya Atkins • LaCleveia Morley Young Professional Fellowship • Jeremy Bajdaun • Luke Bolinger • Sarah Hansen • Elissa Malone Park Champion of the Year • Metro Parks Tacoma

Spotlight Awards National Distinguished Professional Award • Dirk Richwine Robert M. Artz Advocate Award • Chris Riley

NRPA Members Advocate on Capitol Hill

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award • Gerry Logan RWJF-NRPA Award for Healthy Equity • Tina Fleming and Lindsey Jorstad Innovation Awards Innovation in Conservation Award • Metroparks Toledo Innovation in Park Design Award • Three Rivers Park District Innovation in Social Equity Award • City of Santa Clarita Innovation in Health Award and Overall Best in Innovation Award • City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation

On Friday, September 27, NRPA’s Public Policy committee and nearly 50 conference attendees traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress or their staff to advocate for local parks and recreation. Throughout the morning, more than 50 meetings were held, each asking Congress to preserve our nation’s public spaces and ensure access to health and wellness opportunities for all. To learn more about the event, turn to our Advocacy column on page 18.

For more information on the Innovation Award winners and their projects, check out the December 2019 issue of Parks & Recreation. To learn more about award opportunities, visit www.nrpa.org/awards.

Building Bonds in Baltimore and Beyond The 2019 Annual Conference is in the history books, and preparations are already underway to provide NRPA members with the best content and networking opportunities at the 2020 Annual Conference, scheduled for October 27–29 in Orlando, Florida. To submit a session proposal, visit www.nrpa.org/ proposals. To exhibit in Orlando, visit www.nrpa.org/conference/ exhibitors. Registration for the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference opens on Monday, May 11, 2020. We can’t wait to see you there! Lindsay Collins is the Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (lcollins@nrpa.org).

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NRPA’s Dolesh Receives 2019 Pugsley Medal By Lindsay Collins


ithin minutes of meeting Richard J. Dolesh, NRPA’s vice president of strategic initiatives, his unwavering dedication to and passion for parks and recreation and conservation become apparent. His achievements in these areas are numerous — from involvement with the acquisition and management of 54,000 acres of forest, wetlands and swamps in the Chesapeake Forest Lands to being published in the Washington Post and National Geographic, to name a few — spanning nearly five decades, during which time he has been an advocate, educator, mentor, author and leader. “Through the years, I have seen Rich as a leader at the national level, working to solve challenges in natural resources management and public lands conservation,” says Larry Selzer, president and CEO of the Conservation Fund. “He has been a cutting-edge thinker and writer on such topics as the impact of private funds in public parks, restoring landscapes for pollinator conservation and the vital role of parks in fostering partnerships with water utilities and other public- and private-sector institutions in providing solutions for clean water and sustainable landscapes.” It comes as no surprise then, that Dolesh recently was awarded an Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medal (http://www.aapra.org/ pugsley-award), which he received at the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) annual awards reception and banquet held during the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference. The Pugsley Medals are the most prestigious awards that recognize outstanding contributions by an individual to the promotion and development of public parks and conservation in the United States. “Rich’s varied career, his com-

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mitment to education of NRPA members through presenting conference sessions, training webinars, podcasts and his published articles have enabled many current and future park leaders to understand the challenges we face in conservation and to value our natural world,” says Joe Turner, former director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. “From the outset of his career in parks, recreation and conservation, Rich has been a leader, an innovator and a tireless advocate for the importance of parks in protecting the environment and preserving our natural resources and open spaces for future generations.” While Dolesh’s contributions and achievements are many, it is his authenticity and passion that set him apart. He is always on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the field — his annual prognostications about top trends in the field are never off the mark and his sessions at conference on this topic are always well-attended. He is frequently consulted as a leading authority in the fields of parks and conservation, and never hesitates to share his wisdom with anyone and everyone who is interested to learn.

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Not only does he share his wealth of knowledge, but encourages and inspires others to be inquisitive and forward-thinking. “Simply put, to me Rich is the soul and conscience of the national urban parks movement,” says Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of national programs for the Trust for Public Land. “No one knows more than he does about the trends, policies, financing and philosophical issues that surround parks in America.” Dolesh’s Pugsley Medal is well-deserved and is an honor that we here at NRPA headquarters are proud to say our admired colleague has undoubtedly earned. “On behalf of the entire NRPA Board of Directors and staff, I want to congratulate Rich on this outstanding achievement,” says Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. “Rich’s commitment to parks and recreation, specifically conservation, is unparalleled, and the impact of his contributions will make a difference for generations to come.” Lindsay Collins is the Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (lcollins@ nrpa.org).

THANK YOU SPONSORS We would like to thank the generous sponsors of the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference

® ™

If you are interested in sponsoring the NRPA Annual Conference, please contact Lindsay Shannon at lshannon@nrpa.org or 703.858.2178

How Parks and Recreation Can Support


By Barbara Heller and Molly Young


n the United States, more than 46 million people live with mental health illnesses, according to 2017 data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). What’s more, mental health concerns increase during the holidays, as part of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This disorder is a form of depression that recurs regularly, mostly from late fall or winter and lasting through spring. Some studies suggest that up to 20 percent of people are affected by a mild form of the disorder, which scientists believe is caused by a biochemical change in the brain, triggered by shorter days and reduced sunlight. Couple this with additional holiday stresses, and the opportunity for mental health illnesses increase for many people. When discussing mental health, however, we really need to start by talking about those around us. One in 5 individuals suffers from a mental health condition within their lifetime. It’s highly likely you know of or know someone who has been affected — even if they haven’t said anything.

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Speaking from Personal Experience


My interest in mental health offerings within the park and recreation industry is a result of my 55-yearold brother, Rick, who died of suicide in September 2018. He suffered from anxiety and depression his entire adult life and was on medication and under the care of a psychiatrist. Three years before his death, he asked his psychiatrist if it would be OK for him to get off his medications. With the doctor’s permission, he did, and from that time on, he spiraled downward in a battle with anxiety. Many people experience anxiety, but for my brother, it was amplified fourfold. He dealt with his symptoms virtually around the clock. Nothing seemed to help, and he tried as many treatments as he

could — from emergency room visits, two stints in behavior health hospitals and residential treatment programs, to a variety of medications and talk therapy. My family and I noticed that he did find relief from walking in the woods, riding his bike and working out at a fitness center. Exercise and being in nature made him feel appreciably better, until even those activities didn’t help. He felt hopeless about his condition. Through the experience with my brother’s mental health struggle, I became acquainted with April Chambers, who serves on the Florida Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). My sister, Marilyn, who knows Chambers through work, introduced us. After learning of Chambers’ involvement

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with NAMI, Marilyn decided to share her story about our brother. It was a relief for her to talk with someone like Chambers, who understood what she and our family were going through, and she felt comfortable diving into the details. They discussed the family’s attempts to help Rick and the challenges along the way, from seeing multiple doctors to trying out various medications. Following our introduction, Chambers and I co-presented a session about the park and recreation industry’s role in support of mental health initiatives at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference, which was held in Baltimore, Maryland, in September. The room was completely filled, and many more people were waiting outside the door, which speaks to the significant interest in this topic. What my sister and I didn’t know is that our story is just like others. Often, families aren’t equipped to help, and most individuals suffering from a mental health condition are too embarrassed to talk about it. Slowly, the stigma associated with mental health conditions is lessening, but this is a very recent development. Talking about and sharing our experiences are what led to understanding, a healthy future and removing the stigma forever! My brother has inspired me to believe that the park and recreation industry can play a substantive role in helping people with mental illness by offering services directed toward these individuals. Following are examples of initiatives from agencies around the country:

The labyrinth is one of 10 stations that promote relaxation and focus along Stark County Park District’s Mindfulness Walk.

According to Bob Fonte, park director of the Stark County Park District in Canton, Ohio, the district partnered with Stark Mental Health Addiction and Recovery, a local mental health agency, to create a “Mindfulness Walk,” consisting of a trail with 10 stations. The Walk was designed in partnership with mental health professionals and built with the help of several scout groups and park district staff. The stations, which include a Zen sand garden, a musical instrument, stacking stones and a labyrinth, promote relaxation, focus and awareness, reflection and embracing the present moment. In addition, a public relations campaign was launched when the Walk opened in June 2019. Fonte hopes this program will be an added benefit to the community, which has dealt with an increased number of suicide deaths in a local high school over the past two years.

Lexington, Massachusetts The town of Lexington, Massachusetts, created a Mental Health and Wellness Task Force (www. lexingtonma.gov/mentalhealth) that includes the Lexington Recreation and Community Programs Department. The Task Force is funded and staffed by town officials and Lexington Public Schools staff. The group provides leadership and a community-wide focus by engaging providers, residents of all ages and the greater Lexington community in mental health and wellness initiatives. The task force leads four distinct advisory groups made up of several members of the community from cultural groups, faith groups, advocacy groups and other service providers. This is unique in that the

community advises the task force on all initiatives. The initial goals are centered on identifying what all providers are doing in town to support mental health initiatives and developing a centralized place to access this information. This effort will also help to identify areas of duplication, as well as gaps in service offerings for specific populations that have a need for programming and services. In addition to these initiatives, a town staff person has received Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training (https://qprinstitute.com), which focuses on suicide prevention and approximately 200 participants have received this training.

The National Council for Mental Health and the Missouri Department of Mental Health The National Council for Mental Health and the Missouri Department of Mental Health operate Mental Health First Aid (www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org), a nationwide training initiative that focuses on giving students the tools to respond to a mental health crisis. As the website states, “Too few of us would know how to respond if we saw someone having a panic attack or if we were concerned that a friend or co-worker might be showing signs of alcoholism.” Courses are offered throughout the United States, so park agencies can train their staff to recognize the signs of mental health conditions and give them tools to respond appropriately. Austin, Texas, and the New York City Parks and Recreation Department Park Rangers are examples of agencies that offer this training program.

Miami-Dade County, Florida In Miami-Dade County, Florida, the Parks, Recreation and Open


Stark County, Canton, Ohio

Spaces Department has launched Fit2Lead (https://tinyurl.com/ yyxs3j4e) for youths 12–17 years old, an age group that’s particularly vulnerable to mental health issues (https://tinyurl.com/y67m5twx) and that lacks access to treatment. Teens can find enrichment opportunities focusing on promoting mental, social and physical health, or apply to become a part-time, paid park intern. Park interns receive onsite practical work experience and enrichment classes that focus on topics, such as budgeting, résumé writing, communication, stress management, health, goal setting and making positive choices.

Palm Beach County, Florida In Palm Beach County, Florida, a new initiative aimed at raising suicide awareness has gained momentum. Josh’s Benches for Awareness (joshsbenches.com), a Wellington-based nonprofit, was founded in honor of Joshua Nadelbach, who died from suicide at age 21. Josh’s Benches installs bright yellow benches in participating parks, which are engraved with information and resources to assist those struggling with their mental health. In an interview with the Town-Crier, a local newspaper, Josh’s mother, Cindy, says, “Yellow is for ‘hello.’ I have gone to suicide awareness walks, and all the posters say to take the stigma out of the darkness. People don’t want to talk about it, they push it under the carpet, and they think if you don’t talk about

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An instructor helps a child learn to surf as part of a therapeutic surfing course for children with special needs and disabilities.

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Surf (http://ampsurf.org/), which provides surf clinics to disabled adults and children, but has a particular focus on disabled veterans.

Park RX

it, it is not going to happen. But it is just the opposite. You talk about it, and it won’t happen.”

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to provide further trainings on a variety of mental health topics.

Chicago, Illinois

Programs and Initiatives

The Chicago Park District has taken a dually focused approach to addressing and supporting mental health and personal wellness by engaging in efforts, both internally and externally. The agency has instated the unique role of a crisis support manager. This staff member is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) who responds to crises that occur in the parks and other serious situations that affect staff by providing clinical support, debriefing and different mental health trainings. The Chicago Park District is also actively partnering with the city of Chicago in the initiative to train all employees on the concept of trauma and how it impacts themselves, their co-workers and park patrons. In addition, the Chicago Park District offers different mental health and wellness programs, including trauma-informed yoga classes, and partners with agencies such as the

While park and recreation professionals are not typically experts in mental health, agencies can play an important role in helping those with mental health challenges by working with experts to provide programs and services for individuals in need. Following are a few examples of programs and initiatives that are already underway:

Parks across the country can also participate in Park Rx (www.parkrx. org), which facilitates “prescription” programs that often include a collaboration between park and public land agencies, healthcare providers and community partners. With the overall goal of improving health and wellbeing, there are affiliated initiatives in almost every state. Nationwide and internationally, Walk with a Doc (https://walkwithadoc.org/) spearheads free, doctor-led walking groups where participants can engage in conversations around health and wellness in a relaxed, fun setting. This program, which is notably active in Boulder, Colorado, can be particularly useful in giving people the chance to connect and seek help without the fear of being stigmatized, which studies have shown to still be widespread (https://tinyurl.com/yygy3lrw), despite growing public awareness of mental health issues.

Surf Therapy

Forest Bathing

In August 2019, the New York Times (https://tinyurl.com/y2ssbp6l) featured A Walk on Water (awalkon water.org), a nonprofit organization offering therapeutic surfing courses for children with special needs and disabilities. These programs have mainly taken place in Southern California, but are gaining momentum and have now reached as far as Virginia Beach. The International Surf Therapy Organization (https://intl surftherapy.org) also features Amp-

Another walking-based initiative agencies have begun to explore is forest bathing. Forest bathing, known as shinrin-yoku, or “taking in the forest,” in Japanese, is a guided walk through nature where participants are encouraged to pay attention to sound, touch, smell — anything that can trigger the senses. The ultimate goal is to ease stress and experience mindfulness, which is a common treatment (https://tinyurl.com/y2pnkg78) for anxiety and other mental health dis-

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Participants of the Walk with a Doc program walk alongside healthcare providers to talk about health and wellness.

orders. Walk with a Doc and Park Rx have begun offering forest bathing options, and many agencies around the country, including in Centennial, Ohio; Boulder, Colorado; and Roanoke, Virginia, have partnered with guides to lead sessions. Our industry has much to offer for those struggling with mental health challenges; it’s just a matter of having an awareness of this serious problem in our country and ensuring we reach out to professionals and individuals in assisting those who struggle. We all endeavor to create health and wellness opportunities for our communities. Being involved in mental health initiatives is just one more way we can make a difference for those we serve.

Barbara Heller is a Senior Consultant for BerryDunn (bheller@ berrydunn.com). Molly Young is a Business Development Specialist for BerryDunn (myoung@berrydunn.com).

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


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


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NRPA UPDATE CAPRA: A Tangible Guidepost for the City of Fort Collins By Wade Troxell and Darin Atteberry


he city of Fort Collins, Colorado, is fortunate to have residents who recognize and respect the positive impact that park and recreation opportunities bring to our community. From expertly planned and well-maintained parks and trails, to affordable and diverse recreation classes and programs, we are surrounded by concrete evidence that park and recreation services are worth investing in.

A Strategic View The CAPRA accreditation road map is thorough, time-intensive and rigorous, but the benefits are many. The process allowed our Parks, Recreation and PPD departments to take a strategic look at all areas of our operations and benchmark against best practices from across the country. When the city of Fort Collins received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2017, it was the result of many years of diligent work evaluating and improving our operations. CAPRA

The city of Fort Collins celebrates the Fourth of July with a parade.

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When the directors of our Parks, Recreation and Park Planning and Development (PPD) teams began the accreditation process from NRPA’s Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), we were confident it would be a valuable process. Under the thoughtful guidance from leadership and remarkable contributions of the staff involved, CAPRA revealed to us areas where we could continue to improve, while also shining a light on all that was going well.

was a natural next step, guiding us to drill down and examine our park and recreation services with similar rigor and to identify ways we can improve these important community services. CAPRA encouraged us to determine how, why and where we could make adjustments that would open doors of possibility in all our program areas. Some of the immediate benefits we’ve seen from the CAPRA process are improved systems for our teams. These include more robust and reliable risk assessments, improved connectivity among the three departments responsible for parks and recreation, stronger connections with our frontline staff, who invested in the process, and a more solid vision for where we can go in the future.  Another great opportunity on the CAPRA journey came directly to our mid-level employees involved in the evaluations. Because of the team-driven approach used throughout the accreditation period, staff were empowered to think critically and strategically about their program areas and evaluate where changes could be made from the ground up. This close work, together, elevated their understanding and ownership of the interconnected nature of our Parks, Recreation and PPD departments. Staff now have a deeper appreciation for their colleagues and a more complete picture of how the work of these respective

teams complements each other in the day-to-day operations of the city landscape. As Fort Collins continues to grow and change, the emphasis on park and recreation opportunities for everyone will stay at the forefront of our thinking. The city is focused on equity and cocreating the types of places and programs we need to support the health, vitality and overall quality of life for all residents. The fruit of this labor includes opening our newest parks — Sugar Beet Park (www.fcgov.com/parkplanning/sugarbeetpark ) and Poudre River Whitewater Park (www.fcgov.com/parkplanning/poudreriver-park) — as well as steadily increasing enrollments in our rec-

reation classes and low-income access programs. This community is passionate about creating a Fort Collins that is continuously improving. Our residents appreciate new ideas, innovation, inclusion for everyone and the belief that we all play a part in Fort Collins’ growth and future.

Confirmation of the Journey The CAPRA accreditation is not just another feather in our proverbial cap — it’s the promise to our community that we will continue to serve them. Through new parks that are built on creative and inclusive concepts, extensive and accessible trail systems, clean and modern facilities, interesting, challenging and engaging programs,

and staff who are knowledgeable and ready to assist, the coming days for our park and recreation programs look very bright. Before we began the important work toward CAPRA, we believed that Fort Collins’ park and recreation offerings were excellent. This exciting accreditation confirms that belief. The journey was not about having another award to hang on our wall. Instead, it served as a tangible guidepost to show we are on the right path, committed to delivering world-class opportunities, now and in the future. To learn more about CAPRA, visit www.nrpa.org/CAPRA. Wade Troxell is the Mayor of Fort Collins, Colorado (wtroxell@ fcgov.com). Darin Atteberry is the Fort Collins City Manager (datteberry@fcgov.com).

ACCREDITATION PROVES THAT YOUR AGENCY MEETS THE HIGHEST STANDARDS LIMITED TIME OFFER: No application fee if you use code CAPRA100 when you apply between October 1 - December 13, 2019


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Announcing the Newly Accredited and Reaccredited CAPRA Agencies


RPA and the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) are proud to announce the accreditation of nine agencies and reaccreditation of 30 agencies. This distinguished accomplishment was awarded during the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. CAPRA accreditation is the only national accreditation for park and recreation agencies and is a measure of an agency’s overall quality of operation, management and service to the community. This mark of distinction indicates that an agency has met rigorous standards related to the management and administration of lands, facilities, resources, programs, safety and services. Congratulations to the following agencies:

Newly Accredited Agencies • City of Allen Parks and Recreation, Texas • Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism, Alabama • City of Eugene Parks and Recreation, Oregon • City of Fort Collins, Parks, Recreation, and Park Planning & Development, Colorado • Henrico County Recreation and Parks, Virginia • Mount Pleasant Recreation Department, South Carolina • City of North Port Parks & Recreation, Florida • City of Shoreline Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services, Washington • South Suburban Park and Recreation District, Colorado

Reaccredited Agencies • Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, Indiana • Carrollton Parks and Recreation Department, Georgia • Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, South Carolina • City of Alexandria, Virginia Department of Recreation, Parks & 48 Parks & Recreation

Cultural Activities, Virginia • City of Arlington, Texas - Parks and Recreation Department, Texas • City of Farmington: Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Department, New Mexico • City of Lake Mary - Parks and Recreation Department, Florida • City of Logan Parks and Recreation Department, Utah • City of Roseville Parks and Recreation, Minnesota • City of Rowlett Parks and Recreation Department, Texas • City of Scottsdale Parks & Recreation, Arizona • Columbus, Georgia Parks and Recreation, Georgia • Greenville County Parks, Recreation & Tourism, South Carolina • Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Texas • Johnson County Park and Recreation District, Kansas • Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation, Missouri • Largo Recreation Parks and Arts, Florida • Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, North Carolina • Metropolitan Park District of

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Tacoma, Washington • Monmouth County Park System, New Jersey • Morrisville Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources, North Carolina • Plano Parks and Recreation, Texas • Ramsey County Parks & Recreation, Minnesota • Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana • Riverside County Regional Park & Open-Space District, California • Round Rock Parks and Recreation, Texas • Seminole County Leisure Services Department, Florida • United States Army Garrison Hawaii Community Recreation Division, Hawaii • Village of Wellington Parks and Recreation, Florida • Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation, Virginia If you’re interested in becoming CAPRA accredited, visit www.nrpa.org/CAPRA for more information.

Congratulations to the 2019 Gold Medal Award Winners


uring the Opening General Session at this year’s NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Carolyn McKnight, president of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), took to the stage to announce the 2019 Gold Medal Award winners. Along with head judge Susie Kuruvilla and Mike Shindler, marketing relations manager with Gold Medal sponsor Musco Lighting, McKnight presented the Gold Medal Award Grand Plaque to the following agencies for demonstrating excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, programming and professional development, and innovation:

Class I (population 400,001 and over) Fairfax County Park Authority – Virginia

Class III (population 75,001 – 150,000) The Woodlands Township – Texas

Class II (population 150,001 – 400,000) Metro Parks Tacoma – Washington

Class IV (population 30,001 – 75,000) City of Westerville Parks and Recreation – Ohio

Class V (population less than 30,000) Glencoe Park District – Illinois State Parks Department of Environmental Protection, Florida State Parks Armed Forces Recreation Award Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler – Okinawa, Japan

A hearty congratulations to this year’s winners! And, remember, it’s never too early to start gathering the information needed to apply for consideration for the 2020 Gold Medal Awards. All the resources and information you need can be found at www.nrpa.org/gold medal or by contacting us at gold medal@nrpa.org.

Recipients of the 2019 Gold Medal Awards were recognized during the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference.

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Introducing the Sustainability Institute


oin us February 2–7, 2020, in Wheeling, West Virginia, as NRPA introduces a new partner school in conjunction with Oglebay’s National Training Center and North Carolina State University, focusing on organizational sustainability. The curriculum for this course was developed alongside the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and its Green Scientific Advisory Group to teach students how to create a sustainability plan for agencies, while broadening an understanding of sustainable practices and expanding personal, professional networks. This one-year school will engage participants in a process of plan-

ning and creative problem-solving, highlighting themes — such as reducing environmental impacts of utilities, understanding concepts of environmental and economic resilience, and focusing on the soft skills needed to implement and maintain the plan by engaging various stakeholders. The courses will introduce terminology and concepts, define metrics for tracking progress and develop an understanding for utility and other data in establishing baselines for success in relation to challenges that participants face at their agencies. When developing sustainability plans, participants

NRPA’s New Product Spotlight Video Series


hen you see a playground feature that looks like it came to life from the pages of a children’s storybook, do you ever wonder what could have inspired such a unique design? NRPA was curious too, so we decided to interview some of the people behind the latest park and recreation products to get insight into the inspiration behind the designs.

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Our new Product Spotlight video series tells the story behind the design and development of some of the newest playground features, fitness equipment, software, maintenance equipment and more. These interviews go beyond the basic features and dive into what makes these products unique. To watch the latest Product Spotlight videos, visit www.nrpa. org/ProductSpotlight.

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will formulate a mission, vision and goals within various categories being explored, draft a plan outline for their individual agency and establish a plan for gaining stakeholder feedback and support. NRPA has partnered with this school, as there is potential within the Sustainability Institute’s curriculum to fill in identified professional development gaps in the area of conservation and agency resilience to climate change, along with economic factors related to increasing costs of waste management, utilities and other services. If you are a park facility director, this is a valuable training opportunity, as the course content currently focuses on the planning and management of facilities but will expand in the coming years to also focus on resilience and sustainability planning for parks and open space. For more information about this school and to register for 2020, please contact Oglebay at ntc@oglebay.com.

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT The Inspiration Behind the Products





PROVIDING A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT SHOULD BE A WALK IN THE PARK The DOGIPOT® line of products combines unparalleled convenience and superior durability to help you do the job you love better and ensure the perfect park experience whether on two legs or four.

Trash Liner Box 1404


Junior Bag Dispenser 1002-2


Roll Bag 1402


Watch 18 recorded sessions from the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference with NRPA Live. Invest in your professional development and start watching today!


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Hot Topics NRPA Connect (www.nrpaconnect.org) is an online network with more than 62,000 professionals who are ready to answer your questions, help brainstorm your challenges and discuss trending topics in the field. Check out what is being discussed this month: Mother/Son Activities – Father/Daughter dances are always successful, but what about the rest of the family? What has been the experience hosting events for mothers and sons? Several NRPA members offered the following suggestions: We started a Mother/Son Monster Mash about 10 years ago, and it has become very popular. It’s held in October and we encourage mothers and their sons to dress in costumes. We have photographers there to take portraits, games, a haunted house, bounce houses, a DJ, raffles and snacks.  The fire department brings out a truck, the police department brings out a SWAT vehicle and our public works department also brings out a few pieces of equipment for the kids to climb on. 

Our mother/son event is called Adventure Night. We do themed activities that require the parent and child to work together and there’s a prize at the end. This year’s theme is Mission Impossible, and we will have various stations, invisible ink, nerf gun target timers, food and a dance at the end. We switched our Mother/Son-Daddy/Daughter programs this year to Adult/Child to be more inclusive of non-traditional families.

Ready for the Holiday Event Season?


un Express has thousands of new items for the holiday season! Whether it’s party decorations, durable Easter eggs, arts and crafts, toys and novelties, bulk candy, costumes or STEM/STEAM, they have more than 40,000 items to choose from! They also have the name brands you know and trust, including Crayola and Elmer’s. Best of all, NRPA members have access to the 20 percent discount off the Oriental Trading Company retail price through Fun Express.

More reasons to shop through Fun Express: Last year, we did a Mother/Son Game Night where we served a Taco/Nacho bar, had stations for individual self-paced activities, like Giant Jenga, decks of cards and other games. Then, we split the group into teams and the pairs competed against each other in more than 20 different Minute-To-Win-It games (set up in stations in our gym).

Log in to NRPA Connect (www.nrpaconnect.org) today to read even more of the discussion!

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• High-Volume Discounts – call for quotes on large quantities • Future Ship Option – order products now, ship and pay later • Free Samples – try it out before you buy • Custom T-shirts – No set-up fee and shipping is free. They work with Fruit of the Loom, Gildan and Hanes and can print any quantity you need. • Fun Express will BEAT any advertised price! Even Amazon. NRPA members can contact their dedicated account representative, Josh Mason, at jmason@funexpress.com or 888.999.0387. Visit www.nrpa.org/FunExpress to take advantage today.

Member Spotlight: Katy Keller, CPRP, AFO By Lindsay Collins


aty Keller was born and raised in North Carolina, a state she loves and continuously serves. Keller attended Appalachian State University, where she earned a degree in recreation and park management before going on to work for Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation as a recreation specialist. In 2014, she attended the NRPA Annual Conference in Charlotte, where she networked her way into a position helping to launch a new agency in the small town of Indian Trail, North Carolina. In the first three years of building the new department, Keller, her supervisor and what grew to be a small team of five developed more than 200 acres of parkland and installed more than 30 amenities. She currently serves as the recreation program coordinator for Indian Trail Parks & Recreation, where her duties include programming, marketing and park projects. Parks & Recreation: How has network-building helped your career? Katy Keller: With [Indian Trail Parks & Rec] being a brand new department, I understood the huge benefit things like NRPA Connect provided. We were starting from scratch, and there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, so when we had questions — like “what do people’s athletic contracts look like?” or about basic things like policies and rules — networking and meeting other professionals [were] a huge help. Our field is so amazing about everyone wanting to help each other and about sharing information. A huge benefit I’ve seen with all the networking I’ve been able to do is if there’s an obstacle or you’re stuck in your career or you need advice about something, you have mentors. NRPA has so many mentor programs that if you are ever in a bind or looking for some direction or advice, you can find a person to turn to. And if they don’t have experience with [the issue] themselves, they will know someone who does. It’s something that I

have loved being a part of, and now I’m at the point where I am able to start to pay it forward. P&R: What do you believe are some of the most important elements of marketing to keep in mind when it comes to parks and rec? Keller: I think the number one thing is engagement. Also, keeping up with the current trends, breaking out of the government agency box and utilizing the resources that are available to you. It’s not just about social media. If that’s not on the table for your department, that’s fine. Go out and talk to people in the parks or find other ways that are going to maximize your opportunity for outreach. At Indian Trail, the number one way we hear that people have heard about us is word-of-mouth. Also, make sure you stick to your brand — that your department stays true to your mission and your vision, and that people can relate your marketing back to you. So, when they see your logo, [they identify] it to your parks or your

programs. Make sure people know who they are talking to so that if they are driving down the road or looking at a kiosk in a park and see your logo, they say, “Oh, this is not just a park. This is Indian Trail Parks & Recreation.” P&R: What’s your spirit animal and why? Keller: It comes down to an elephant or a giraffe. Giraffes are kind of goofy, and I’m kind of goofy. But I’ll go with an elephant, because [elephants are] huge and I’m super loud, so I figure if you don’t see me coming, you’re going to hear me! And, elephants are super loyal, they are family driven, and they’re determined. I strive even through my networking to create family. Parks and rec is so family oriented, and I love that atmosphere and being a part of that family. – Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine

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Parks & Recreation Crossword

Across 1 Principle of having parks open to all races, ages and income brackets, goes with 9 across 6 Baby’s food catcher 8 Imagined 9 See 1 across 11 Natural asset 13 Large white water bird 16 Alpine song 18 Park hiking areas 20 Sault ___ Marie, Mich. 21 Golden State, abbr. 22 Donate 23 You, in Paris 24 Versus, abbr. 27 Rocky hill 28 Sharing in group activities 29 Desirable or useful feature 30 Easter hunt items

Down 1 Seniors 2 People who use facilities 3 Male turkey 4 Exist 5 Sharply outline 6 Spelling contest 7 Animals out on the range 10 Sharp as a tack 12 Internet addresses 14 Friendly and inviting 15 Like streams, valleys and mountains 17 Widely varied 19 Tree juice 22 Space 23 Highest point 25 Water bodies favored in a recent parks survey 26 Small thing of its kind, briefly 27 Spruced up

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 November 30, 2019. 54 Parks & Recreation

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

BECOME A PLAYGROUND MAINTENANCE COURSE INSTRUCTOR To become a Playground Maintenance Course Instructor, you must first apply to attend the one-day instructor workshop, where attendees receive an indepth review of the Playground Maintenance Course materials and the technical knowledge and presentation skills necessary to teach the course. Qualifications include six years of full-time experience in playground maintenance, playground safety, park operations and management or related fields; experience teaching adult education; current CPSI Certification, maintained for a minimum of six years; current member of NRPA. The next instructor workshop will take place December 5, 2019, at the NRPA headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. Be sure to complete the online application at www.nrpa.org/ playgroundmaintenance by November 5, 2019.


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

January 12–17, 2020

Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/Event-School

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin Greenwood, Indiana North Kansas City, Missouri Kearns, Utah Altamonte Springs, Florida

4-6 Burlington, Kentucky 9-11 Hoover, Alabama


4-6 4-6 5-7 6-8 20-22






4-5 7-8 12-13 14-15 20-21

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin Clearwater, Florida Little Rock, Arkansas North Port, Florida Alexandria, Virginia

3-4 4-5 4-5 10-11 17-18

Bessemer, Alabama St. Louis Park, Minnesota Okinawa, Japan Concord, North Carolina Harrison, Tennessee

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

March 15–20, 2020 www.nrpa.org/CPSI




Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/Revenue-School

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


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OPERATIONS Privacy and Inclusion Creating welcoming public facilities that truly serve By Lindsey Peckinpaugh, AIA, LEED AP, RELi AP; and Jenny Stephens


ublic facilities, by definition and mission, aim to inclusively serve their communities. Today, the definition of “inclusion” is broader than ever, raising questions about how public institutions must adapt in order to be inclusive for all. A recent reckoning with this topic came in the form of a 2017 lawsuit against an Illinois school district, where a student was denied the use of locker room facilities because she was transgender. The case reinvigorated conversations about how to accommodate the needs of all users in public facilities. In our work, this topic frequently arises, as clients and their communities seek to better understand how design can help them become more accessible. We, in turn, look to research and informed conversations with users to see how we can help clients put inclusivity into practice.

What Does Inclusion Mean?


Gender is often central to these discussions, as more people today feel safe to express themselves

in ways that challenge traditional norms. However, as institutions explore how best to serve diverse user groups, our experience has shown us that the dialogue we should be having about inclusion isn’t about gender at all: it’s about privacy. Though inclusion has recently become a political flashpoint, we must acknowledge that inclusive public facilities that grant users more privacy have been around for years. Consider, for example, the widely

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accepted family changing rooms that quietly became common several decades ago. These larger spaces have improved access for parents with small children, the elderly and adults who require a caretaker. By using this concept as a jumping off point, communities can consider how to design for the needs of today’s diversifying user groups. Privacy — the ability to choose how and whether to seclude oneself in order to carry out a task, like changing clothes or using the restroom — often determines one’s decision to use a facility at all. Gender is rarely the only key driver in inclusive design, but it is a challenge frequently faced by members of the transgender community, among other user groups. A 2016 study (https://tinyurl. com/ybr39t8s) from the National Center for Transgender Equality reports: “Twelve percent of transgender people were verbally harassed in public restrooms within the previous year, 1 percent were physically attacked and 1 percent were sexually assaulted. Nine percent said someone denied them access to a bathroom.” Out of fear of confrontation, almost At this building leased by North Kansas City Schools, inclusive restrooms are shared by the elementary and middle school-aged students. Boys and girls alike use the restrooms harmoniously, and staff have reported less bullying and horseplay in the restrooms now that the genders are no longer separated. Instances like this further prove that normalizing empathy and inclusivity leads to a safer, more comfortable experience for all.

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Open Access to Lobby & Gymnasium

Private lavatories and changing compartments lock from the inside and are in full view of the sinks, shared locker zone, and open access to the lobby and gymnasium. This allows for passive surveillance, adding another level of security for users.

Private Changing Rooms Shared Locker Zone Open Access to Lobby & Gymnasium

60 percent of transgender people have avoided using restrooms. This is reinforced by a 2018 study (https:// tinyurl.com/y5lt5o98) from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, which again reports higher rates of harassment among facilities that do not provide adequate privacy for users regardless of gender, age or ability. Lack of acceptance sends an unwelcoming message from public institutions and blocks access for many. For park districts, especially, tight-knit communities are essential to success and paramount to their missions. If organizations, architects and community members do not intentionally create inclusive spaces, it sends a clear message that certain community members are not welcome.

Fostering Empathy via Design How can we, a diverse society of people with different abilities and sensibilities, cultivate empathy? The 2010 U.S. Census notes that nearly 1 in 5 Americans has a disability. The report also states that new disabilities continue to emerge. Some 20 percent of listed disabilities are not visible: these can include autism, arthritis, asthma, hearing impairment and learning disabilities. In Indiana, 19 municipalities passed a 2016 Gender ID ordinance, which allows residents to use any public restroom according to their self-identified gender. As design began in 2017 on West Lafayette’s

Private Toilet Compartments & Lavatories Shared Locker Zone Private Shower Rooms & Full-Service Family Changing Rooms

Natatorium Access

WEST LAFAYETTE WELLNESS AND WEST LAFAYETTE WELLNESS Wellness and Aquatic Center — a AND AQUATIC CENTER AQUATIC CENTER new public facility in West Lafayette, Indiana — elected officials and project leaders from the city stated one of the project’s core missions: to provide holistic wellness and recreation opportunities for all community members in the spirit of service and inclusion. The facility is scheduled to open in 2020, with inclusive restrooms and locker rooms that provide all building users enhanced opportunities for privacy. Timothy Clark, facilities director, ADA/Title VI coordinator - risk management for the city of West Lafayette, states: “The new inclusive locker rooms planned for the West Lafayette Wellness and Aquatic Center will directly impact my family’s ability to use the new facility. Having access to an inclusive changing room with adaptive changing table will allow me to assist my daughter, who has special needs, in a private and dignified way. I’m proud that we have the resources to provide this for our community.” For existing buildings, the question “why should I restructure my facility now?” must be asked carefully. As-

suming users with specific needs will just adapt is not realistic and, particularly, discriminates against people with disabilities. Operators of public facilities must consider barriers to access and look for modifications to ensure each person’s privacy is respected. We believe our society can make room for diverse needs. We are capable of empathy. Barriers to access in public facilities — open showers or gendered restrooms, for example — are often outdated social concepts and unnecessary. It is important to remember that privacy is at the core of every conversation about inclusion: the desire to use facilities that are easier and safer for users regardless of their ability, gender, age or family status stems from our basic human need to belong. If we look past politicized views on inclusion, by understanding individuals’ preferences and abilities, we can create welcoming spaces that truly serve.



Lindsey Peckinpaugh, AIA, LEED AP, RELi AP, is the Principal: Sports, Recreation, and Entertainment Practice Leader for Perkins and Will (lindsey.peckinpaugh@perkinswill.com). Jenny Stephens is the Principal: Marketing Director for Perkins and Will (jenny.stephens@perkinswill.com).

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Parks & Recreation



CHELSEA BOOTS Blundstone, the iconic Chelsea boot brand from Tasmania, Australia, has served as the prototype for modern Chelsea boots as we know them. These rugged, durable boots are perfect for your outdoor activity of choice. Blundstone favorites, such as the Classic 500, and fan favorite, the 585, are both great picks for fall and winter activities. BLUNDSTONE, 877.344.2525, WWW.BLUNDSTONE.COM

As the temperature rises, TºCool® antimicrobial turf-cooling infill releases moisture, creating a cooling effect. TºCool® works on the cooling principle of thermo regulation (similar to the human body and natural grass). When solar energy heats the synthetic turf surface, the moisture stored within the TºCool® system absorbs heat energy and reduces surface temperature. TºCoolPT is designed to make athletic fields with artificial turf safer and more usable. Proven to reduce turf surface temperatures by as much as 50° F, TºCoolPT will make your athletic field the preferred sporting area — even in the dead of summer. TºCOOL, 833.TRY.COOL, WWW.TCOOLINFILL.COM

PLAYGROUND NET CLIMBER TimberForm, “the first name in wood for play,” offers many of its classic favorites. This Classic Timberform® Tri-Net Climber™ features four 11' by 11" diameter, lathe-turned free-of-heartcenter, Douglas fir posts. The climbing frame is powder-coated schedule 40 steel pipe and the climbing ropes are polywrapped galvanized steel-core cables with aluminum fittings. Installation is by direct embedment. Regular use of the Tri-Net Climber can improve agility, flexibility, coordination and upperbody strength for players in a wide range of ages. COLUMBIA CASCADE COMPANY, 800.547.1940, WWW.TIMBERFORM.COM

WATERPLAY PRODUCTS Waterplay has released three new experience-driven products with the Water Weaver series, a unique product grouping featuring a simple design with remarkable play value at an economical price point. The easy-to-install, low-maintenance features hit the market well-positioned to respond to the industry need for collaborative, multiuser play experiences. Created to stimulate the mind, Water Weavers inspire exploration and encourage spatial awareness and movement through interactivity and playful weaving water effects. Waterplayers jump, bend, reach, crouch, squat and run, as they move their body to the speed and rhythm of the spiraling water as it splashes 360°! The three products work together as a group, or individually, alongside any of Waterplay’s product lines. WATERPLAY SOLUTIONS, 800.590.5552, WWW.WATERPLAY.COM 58 Parks & Recreation

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Pe rgola s

park essentials

G azebos

Pa v ilions

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200-page catalog and price guide

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Amplifying Your Community Events for Over 40 Years LEARN MORE TODAY! anchoraudio.com/NRPA | 760.827.7124

Music Play That Moves You Foster social, emotional, and cognitive development with Burke’s New PlayEnsemble™ Collection BCIBURKE.COM Trademarks are the property of BCI Burke Company. BCI Burke Company 2019. All rights reserved.

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Parks & Recreation


park essentials

The Easiest Way To Build ! THANK YOSuUccNesRsfPA ul For a VERY NRPA Conference & 2019

Precast Concrete Buildings For All Your Park & Rec Needs VERSATILE • DURABLE • FAST • ECONOMICAL • SECURE Standard and custom plans, styles, colors, finishes • Sizes from 10’ x 12’ to 50’ x 250’ Pre-engineered, Pre-assembled, Pre-plumbed, Pre-wired • Minimal site preparation Outperforms all other materials • Resistant to rot, vandalism, fire, blast, and storms Installation in just hours • Available nationwide from a network of Licensed Producers Concessions • Dugouts • Electrical/Mechanical • Hazmat • Maintenance Sheds • Offices • Press Boxes Pump Houses • Restrooms • Locker Rooms • Field Houses • Security Shacks • Shelters • Storage & more!

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Online Quote Form

EasiSetBuildings.com 866.252.8210

8/27/2019 4:56:33 PM


Engineered for optimal stability, both Bobby the SealÂŽ and Tommy the ReindeerÂŽ are light and stackable for space-saving storage, as well as fun for first-time and seasoned skaters alike! In fact, Bobby is both a skating aid and a ride, while Tommy is designed to help children ages 5-9 take their first steps on the ice. Goodbye clunky, old skating aids and hello to a safer, more enjoyable skating experience for all!

GymsForDogs.com sales@GymsForDogs.com 800-931-1562

Add an attraction to your ice rink that pays for itself! Ask us about our premier portable ice rink sales & rentals, too!

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Parks & Recreation


park essentials




NiceRink® on turf

RINKS THAT PAY FOR THEMSELVES IN TIME SAVED. Install on fields, courts, ponds and asphalt. Fill with one flood. Simple to maintain.

NiceRink® on a court

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Everyone talks about

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work-life balance. Move up to leadership and help build the spaces that make it possible.

Earn your M.S. in Administration in Recreation and Park Administration: » Complete your master’s degree in two years, taking just one course per term.

Outdoor Bottle Filler & Water Fountain CWBF-2-CHD

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» 877-268-4636 » CMUglobal@cmich.edu » global.cmich.edu/MSA CMU, an AA/EO institution, strongly and actively strives to increase diversity and provide equal opportunity for all individuals, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation and including but not limited to minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities 3862958 10/19

Our commercial-grade all-stainlesssteel fixture is built to last and helps to reduce waste from disposable water bottles. Resistant to sunlight, heat, and vandalism, our fountain is available in 11 striking powder-coated colors!

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REVIT details available at our website. © 2019 Willoughby Industries Inc.

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800.428.4065 | WilloughbyStainlessFountains.com

Ice-America.................................................................................................. 61

Anchor Audio.............................................................................................. 59

Kay Park Recreation Company.............................................................. 62

BCI Burke Playgrounds............................................................................ 59

Landscape Structures Inc.........................................................................5

Bedford Technology.................................................................................. 13

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

Bobcat Company.......................................................................................... 7 Bright Idea Shops, LLC............................................................................. 60 Cemrock........................................................................................................ 15 Central Michigan University ................................................................. 63 Columbia Cascade Company.................................................................. 23 DOGIPOT......................................................................................................... 51 Easi-Set Buildings..................................................................................... 60 Eco-Counter................................................................................................. 19

Nice Rink..................................................................................................... 62 Pilot Rock/RJ Thomas Mfg. Co. ............................................................. 25 Play & Park Structures/PlayCore.......................................................... C4 RenoSys....................................................................................................... 62 Ropecamp..................................................................................................... 61

advertiser index

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

Salsbury Industries...................................................................................27 Scoremaster Goals................................................................................... 62

ePACT Network........................................................................................... 21

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

Goldenteak/The Wood Carver, Inc. ...................................................... 60

Sybertech Waste Reduction Ltd..............................................................9

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


Gyms for Dogs/Livin the Dog Life.......................................................... 61

Willoughby Industries............................................................................. 63

(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.

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Parks & Recreation



Park Bench

Parramore Kidz Zone Parramore is a historically impoverished neighborhood in the city of Orlando, Florida. Its roots date back to the 1880s when it was developed as a segregated African-American community. Today, the City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation Department is working to change the neighborhood’s course by ensuring its youth are equipped with the knowledge and resources required to become healthy, successful adults. Through the Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) initiative (www.cityoforlando.net/parramorekidzzone), the department provides services — afterschool programs, mentoring, college access assistance and access to healthcare, to name a few — to families and youth in the community. Some of the programming and other services offered through PKZ and its partners include: • Childcare subsidies so children — from infants to preschoolers — can receive free care and education prior to beginning kindergarten • Free tutoring, mentoring and access to technology, school supplies and meals for school-aged children year-round • Specialized training, art and community service-oriented program opportunities for teens, as well as mentors and access to teen facilities • Assistance with college applications and the costs of associated supplies and fees • A youth employment program, with 2:1 earnings matching from donors to be applied toward post-secondary education expenses • Healthy food options and opportunities, such as healthy meal distribution, cooking classes and community gardening • Free athletic programs (including uniforms, equipment and transportation) and wilderness education The PKZ initiative, which began in 2006, generated great results in its first 10 years. At that milestone, the department noted that thanks to PKZ, the community had seen a 56 percent decline in teen pregnancies and a 61 percent decline in juvenile arrests, while 86 percent of high school students maintained a GPA of 2.0 or above and 100 percent of high school students graduated on time. PKZ continues to serve families and youth in the Parramore neighborhood in hopes that current and future generations will receive the benefits of a happier, healthier community. — Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine

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Available on iTunes and Google Play | openspaceradio.org

The Official Podcast of NRPA

The Latest Park and Recreation News and Trends On the Go

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The only face-to-face swing that captures photos and video!

Be in the moment while capturing the memories!TM Double swing bay capacity • Attract more park visitors • Increase engagement Ask about our SelfieSwing Demo Program. Learn more at playandpark.com/selfieswing or call 800.727.1907.


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Parks & Recreation Magazine - November 2019  

Parks & Recreation Magazine - November 2019  

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