Magazine article Parks & Recreation

ARLINGTON COUNTY, VA.: Teaming Up to Win

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

ARLINGTON COUNTY, VA.: Teaming Up to Win

Article excerpt

Nothing is left to guesswork, wishful thinking or pie-in-the-sky plans for the Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources (DRPRC). Staff and policies apply an unusual degree of mindfulness and commitment to the needs of its roughly 190,000 residents, who live in a 26.7-square-mile mix of urban and suburban community in the heart of the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. This high-density population of a highly diverse mix of races, religions, languages and ethnic groups, as well as a large aging population, requires an innovative approach to both program needs and the use of limited land space for recreation.

The emphasis Arlington County places on recreation and sport reflects the central importance of its philosophy: "The pursuit of leisure, including sports activities and programs, is a condition necessary for human dignity and well-being, and sports are a part of a healthy lifestyle and productive life." Sport and recreation is not merely one way to fill spare time, but is essential to living well. As a result, Arlington has amassed an array of programs and facilities, partnerships and inclusiveness that mirror this philosophy. Examples include the following:

* Arlington County has launched the NRPA Hearts N' Parks initiative. This program is a collaboration between NRPA and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to encourage people to engage in regular activity, aim for a healthy weight and follow a heart-healthy eating plan. The community-based programs are aimed at stemming the rising tide of obesity and heart disease in the U.S.

* Arlington County was chosen as one of four communities (including Houston, Minneapolis, and San Diego) to participate in a study conducted by the University of Delaware and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to investigate the relationship between health and local park and recreation use in adults ages 50 and oven

* Arlington County has adopted the Asset Development model as the cornerstone of its programs for youth. Youth programs are specifically designed to nurture developmental assets using adult role models, giving kids an opportunity to use time and energy in constructive ways, allowing young people to participate in planning programs, having high expectations and fostering competence of youth on many levels. …

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