Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Build Success through Coalitions

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Build Success through Coalitions

Article excerpt

For years we have been promoting the idea of combining parks and recreation services with other community-oriented programs. Some of the most successful alliances of the past were recreation programs, directed at youth or at-risk youth, combined with financial support from private corporations. These were effective partnerships; the recreation agency receives much-needed funds for their programs and the businesses are recognized for giving back to the community.

These types of mutually beneficial partnerships were our response to tightening recreation and park budgets. We were able to stretch our resources a little further and still create viable programs with the expertise on which our profession prides itself. But, now the climate is changing; and recreation and parks agencies must again consider new ways to promote our services to the public.

One way is to combine our services and programs with other public service agencies. Many recreation and park programs interrelate with other public agencies, such as public housing authorities, school districts, court and probating agencies, city manager's offices, and the like. Some coalition projects even include the local departments of public works, transportation, human resources, and police or law enforcement agencies.

There are many exciting examples of creative, effective coalition projects in recreation today; most of them consist of several component programs. The City of Raleigh's (NC) Project Phoenix, for example, is made up of 13 education and recreation-related programs stressing reading and math skills, self-esteem, and violence prevention, citizenship, and fitness--all facilitated through the recreation and parks department.

The City of Boulder (CO) Parks and Recreation Department pooled resources with the local housing authorities to create a series of inner city outings, summer camps, on-site activities, and mentoring programs. In Sunnyvale (CA) the Parks and Recreation Department joined forces with other local agencies to create the Columbia Neighborhood Center. Coupled with the Sunnyvale Teen Express Program (STEP), local at-risk youth have access to 75 summer and after school programs year-round.

Despite innovative programs like the few mentioned, the potential for coalitions involving recreation and park agencies goes relatively untapped. …

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