Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Perspectives: Making a Bridge to Citizens: Citizen Involvement Is Crucial to Successful Community Park and Recreation Programs

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Perspectives: Making a Bridge to Citizens: Citizen Involvement Is Crucial to Successful Community Park and Recreation Programs

Article excerpt

A soon-to-be published book entitled Building Better Communities, compiled and edited by Charles Hartsoe, relates the story of NRPA's predecessor organization, the National Recreation Association (NRA) from 1906-1965. It tells of the ability of NRA to recruit and retain a strong base of citizen support that has become the legacy, as well as the model from which NRPA evolved.

Citizen involvement has always been a core component of NRPA, but in 2006, citizen power was on full display at events like the National Legislative Forum and the recently concluded Urban Summit. The common desire of everyone present to improve the quality of life illustrates the immense potential of what can happen when people partner for a common good.

Yes, we've seen success and potential in our citizen advocacy efforts. But, from my travels around the nation, I wonder why so few citizens are visible at state conferences or larger meetings. I ask this, knowing full well that most citizens are active and involved in their local area and doing a good job advocating for their friends and neighbors.

But how can these local leaders be encouraged to step beyond home and combine efforts with others on the state and national level?

I urge professional leadership to be willing to invite their citizen volunteers to become more aware of the field through their state and national magazine, Web site information and attendance at meetings where they are exposed to issues that extend beyond the local area. …

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