Tools You Can Use

Inclusive Health Promotion in Local Parks and Recreation

This guide was prepared by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), with support from Special Olympics.

Park and recreation professionals are uniquely suited to deliver programming and services that advance the health and well-being of their community members. More and more, park and recreation professionals are serving as stewards of community wellness hubs — trusted gathering places that connect every member of the community to essential program, services and spaces that advance health equity, improve health outcomes and enhance quality of life.

But how can park and recreation professionals best serve ALL members of the community?

Key actions like adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), equal employment opportunity, and other civil rights laws are great steps, but to truly serve all community members, park and recreation professionals should take more intentional steps to ensure that all voices of the community are heard and valued during both the planning and implementation process of programs, services and built environment enhancements.

By prioritizing inclusive health, park and recreation agencies can truly serve in their role as community wellness hubs.

In partnership with Special Olympics, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has developed this framework, specifically detailing ways in which park and recreation professionals can ensure that facilities and programs are inclusive and welcoming to all, especially those with intellectual disabilities. This supplement to the Guidelines for Developing an Inclusion Policy resource that addresses the barriers to inclusive health and what the health implications are for those with intellectual disabilities when solutions to these challenges are not implemented.

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