Goal is to connect children in urban communities to nature.
Three-day event organized by Austin Parks and Recreation Department and National Recreation and Park Association
Environmental advocates and park leaders from across the country will convene in Austin, Texas, May 17–19 to identify critical next steps for local park and recreation agencies aiming to connect children within urban communities to nature. Organized by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), in collaboration with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, National League of Cities and the Children & Nature Network, the three-day NRPA Innovation Lab titled: Connecting Communities to Nature will explore innovative strategies that create meaningful and equitable connections to the outdoors for youth living in underserved urban areas.
“The role of parks and recreation in creating opportunities for children to experience the benefits of nature is expanding,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA president and CEO. “Making sure every child in every community is included in these opportunities is essential to creating the next generation of environmental advocates.”
Evaluate the barriers/disparities in connecting underserved youth to nature opportunities, and identify strategies and highlight success stories that address equity
Explore metrics and tools that help to measure impact and reach of nature programming and spaces focused on youth engagement
Explore first hand through site visits and facilitated discussions how park agencies and partner organizations are connecting young people to the outdoors through collective impact partnerships
Representatives from the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative, a partnership between the Children & Nature Network and the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families, will be on-site to help facilitate discussions on connecting communities to nature. Youth enrolled in the innovative programming offered by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department will participate, as well, providing their own unique perspective on the role of parks in transforming children’s environmental ethic.
“Good planning is not just about preparing children for the future, but engaging children in activities that will impact their lives,” said Kimberly McNeeley, Acting Director of the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. “Providing kids of all ages, and in all areas of the city, nature-based programming and a hands-on chance to explore nature, is imperative to the future of our green spaces.”
About The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of nearly 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.
About the Austin Parks and Recreation Department
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is an award-winning park system with more than 300 parks, 227 miles of trails and more than 20,000 acres of greenspace. The Department serves the public by providing, protecting and preserving a park system that promotes quality recreational, cultural and outdoor experiences. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department offers an essential public service and demonstrates economic value, health and environmental benefits, and social importance by improving the overall quality of life for Austin residents and visitors. For more information, visit www.austintexas.gov/parks.
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