NRPA Launches Mentoring in Parks and Rec During National Mentoring Month

SOURCE: National Recreation and Park Association

New initiative expands and supports mentoring programs in parks and recreation

Ashburn, Va. (Jan. 16, 2019) — As January ushers in National Mentoring Month, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) proudly announces its new initiative, Mentoring in Parks and Rec: Connecting Communities, Cultivating Leaders.  Local park and recreation agencies provide many opportunities for youth to engage in positive social experiences and form strong, healthy connections with adults. Through this initiative, NRPA will support local park and recreation agencies in their efforts to build effective and evidence-based mentorship programs that connect youth with caring and compassionate mentors while strengthening connections across communities.

“NRPA is excited to introduce its Mentoring in Parks and Rec initiative dedicated to supporting park and recreation professionals as they implement mentoring programs for at-risk and vulnerable youth,” said Kellie May, NRPA vice president of programs and partnerships. “As public health threats continue to impact our communities, evidence-based mentorship programs have the power to provide essential connections to people, community, and opportunity, keeping youth on the path to success.”

Mentoring plays a key role in preventing young people from engaging in risky and harmful behaviors, while keeping them engaged in positive activities that build confidence, empower decision making, and enhance relationships with peers, adults and community. At-risk youth who have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college and 52 percent less likely to skip a day of school than their peers. Youth with mentors also are 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using drugs. Unfortunately, one in three young people in the United States reaches age 19 without a mentor of any kind. This includes the nine million at-risk youth who are missing critical support and connections that mentoring can provide.

Park and recreation agencies are well-suited to help close this gap by offering one-on-one and group mentoring programs that support and nurture youth. As agencies continue to evolve into hubs for health, recreation and social-emotional development services, park and recreation professionals often fill this critical role as mentors and role models, especially for high-risk youth.

Through Mentoring in Parks and Rec, NRPA will work with partners to develop resources that agencies and their staff can use to develop or expand programs and help youth gain access to quality mentors. A component of this initiative focuses on implementing mentoring programs for youth impacted by opioids in rural central Appalachia.

To support local park and recreation agencies in the development and implementation of effective mentoring programs, NRPA’s newly launched Mentoring in Parks and Rec website provides access to numerous resources, including:

  • NRPA’s Youth Mentoring Framework
  • Mentoring to Address Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Mentorship in Rural, Central Appalachia for Youth Impacted by Opioids
  • Resource and research database:
    • The National Mentoring Partnership’s Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring
    • Family engagement resources
    • Law enforcement engagement resources
    • Substance use prevention resources

These resources are partially funded through a three-year program (grant #2018-JU-FX-0036) supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Throughout the month of January, NRPA will release a series of blogs, social media posts and more related to this initiative and the importance of mentoring.

Learn more at

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 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 For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

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