Last year in Reno, the National Partnerships breakfast drew 100 attendees, all interested in learning about partnership possibilities. This year, however, the room was packed at more than 350 people who attended to celebrate partnership successes, and learn more about new opportunities.
Since last year, participation in the sports and health network has grown by 414 percent, which means that 3,100 park and recreation agencies are somehow involved in national partnership initiatives.
In addition to increasing participation, Kathy Spangler, director of the department, announced that NRPA has increased collaborations between the academic world and practitioners. Here are some of the projects:
* Comprehensive evaluations of environments for active living
* Evaluation of the International Food Information Council's online resource called Leader's Guide to Healthy Eating & Active Living Program
* Study by Illinois University to look at ways park managers can increase understanding among the African-American and Latino communities
* Creation of an assessment tool for youth sports
* Launch of a Center for Leisure and Healthy Lifestyles
* Study funded by the National Recreation Foundation to learn about partnerships for health
* Organization of a workshop on trans-disciplinary research for active living
* Collaboration with Emory University on a National Cancer Institute funded diffusion study for skin cancer prevention
Although there seems to be a lot going in the academic side of things, Spangler said that there were two sides to every coin. "These research projects serve as a compass to guide the development of our national initiatives,"
Spangler said. "While our partners on the other hand provide the fuel to add value to what local park and recreation departments already do well."
Some of those partnerships include:
* Starter and Minor League Baseball, which helped distribute more than 27,500 minor league game tickets in 55 communities to local volunteers, staff and youth
* United States Disabled Athletes Fund, which introduced BlazeSports Clubs of America to new communities nationwide. In three years, a project that was successfully developed in Georgia has expanded to over 43 communities nationwide, with an expansion of ten more sites in 2006
* Major League Baseball, which expanded the Pitch, Hit and Run program to reach 1,400 park and recreation departments
* National Basketball Association (NBA) that assisted youth basketball coaches with local programs, benefiting more than 200,000 youth
* Hershey's Track and Field Youth Program, where an estimated 400,000 youth compete every year In addition to recognizing these program partnerships, Spangler also commented that strategic partnering has brought added visibility to NRPA and participating communities. This year, NRPA will work with the PGA to help members improve golf course operations and attendance.
Many heard about the Sports Illustrated GOOD SPORTS Initiative presented by Dodge last year, but the good news continued--in addition to 1,400 communities registering to join the national effort, eight are recognized in this month's Sports Illustrated as shining examples in the area of youth sports (see page 64 for a listing). …