For many, local parks are often our first experience in nature. They are places to gather with friends and family, celebrate special moments, promote physical activity, healing and connect us with essential community services. Seven in 10 U.S. residents have at least one local park, playground, open space or recreation center within walking distance of their homes, but non-white and low-income neighborhoods are 50 percent less likely to have one recreational facility in their community. Many communities of color and other marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ+, immigrants, people with low income and people with disabilities, lack the opportunity to experience and engage in high-quality parks and recreation — because these resources do not exist near them, or, if they do, they are not safe, welcoming or inclusive.
For 2022 the National Recreation and Park Association, is bringing attention to how important it is to rise up and support parks and recreation, because every day, park and recreation professionals rise up for their communities in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being.
Parks and Recreation Rise Up for Health and Well Being
- 87 percent of people agree that parks and recreation is an important service provided by their local government.
- Nearly nine in 10 people agree it is important to fund local park and recreation agencies to ensure every member of the community has equitable access to amenities, infrastructure and programming
- Ninety-three percent of U.S. adults say their mental health is improved by services offered by local park and recreation professionals and agencies.
- The nation’s park and recreation professionals are on the frontline in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness, substance use disorder, the obesity epidemic and other chronic health issues.
Parks and Recreation Rise Up for Environmental Resilience
- Local park and recreation agencies collectively manage more than 11 million acres of open space across the United States.
- Local parks create essential environmental stewards advocating for and protecting our most precious public resources — our land, water, trees, open spaces and wildlife.
- Parks reduce the impact of large storms and flooding by serving as sponges that soak up runoff from nearby paved surfaces during rain events. This in turn prevents flooding and decreases property damage.
- Well-designed parks reduce water usage by recycling and storing this water for use during times of low precipitation.
- Parks lower ground temperatures with tree canopy for healthier air and contributes to overall urban cooling.
Parks and Recreation Rise Up for Economic Opportunity
- The outdoor recreation economy, which includes local parks and recreation, accounted for $373.3 billion of 2020 U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or 1.8 percent of the U.S. economy.
- 92 percent of U.S. adults agree that it is important for youth and young adults to have access to employment opportunities. Park and recreation departments across the country are among the biggest employers of youth.
- The more than 10,000 local park and recreation agencies across the U.S. employ more than 165,000 full-time and hundreds of thousands part-time and seasonal park and recreation professionals.
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