The National Recreation and Parks Association on Tuesday announced a best practice guide for park and recreation agencies to develop a formal inclusion policy. 

According to NRPA, just 2 in 5 agencies have a formal inclusion policy. Available online, the new guide is part of NRPA’s Parks for Inclusion initiative and shares best practices for creating a formal inclusion policy. The guide also includes a template that agencies can use to develop a policy that meets the unique needs of their community.

“After surveying our members, we learned the desire to create more inclusive parks and recreation centers is strong, as was the need to develop formal policies that promote inclusion for historically marginalized groups,” said Rebecca Wickline, NRPA senior vice president of development. “The new Parks for Inclusion guide acknowledges the inequities that vulnerable populations face from a health, social and economic perspective. To address these inequities, it’s key that park and recreation agencies have policies in place that support positive outcomes for all community members.”

The new guide highlights key components of a policy, while the template is a customizable piece for agencies to create their own unique inclusion policy to ensure that everyone is welcome at parks. The best practices guide highlights these key considerations when creating a policy:

  • What is a policy and why it’s important
  • Why it’s important to specifically call out inclusive practices
  • How to assess community needs and involve the community and target audiences in policy creation
  • Why it’s important to set goals and measure the effectiveness of a policy
  • How to implement the policy among agency staff and the greater community

NRPA launched the Parks for Inclusion initiative in September 2017 in response to a formal pledge made to the global Commit to Inclusion program. The goal of Parks for Inclusion is to ensure that everyone has access to the benefits of parks and recreation, especially historically marginalized groups, including those with physical and cognitive disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, those who identify as LGBTQ+, and refugees and immigrants or New Americans.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.