National Recreation and Parks Association 2020 Engagement with Parks Report

Source:  National Recreation and Parks Association – September 2020

Parks and recreation touches the lives of millions of people every day. Parks, trails, public open spaces and recreation facilities are places where people can improve their physical and mental health, gather with family and friends, and reconnect with nature. With vast, diverse offerings, parks and recreation provides a unique, personal experience for every member of a community.

With their goals of advancing community health and well-being, developing climate-ready parks and providing equitable access to their many benefits, the more than 10,000 local park and recreation agencies across the country help make our cities, towns and counties vibrant communities. In turn, the public recognizes parks and recreation’s innate ability to improve the lives of every member of a community. When deciding where they want to reside, people seek places that feature well-maintained parks, vast trail networks, pools and other recreation facilities.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated the essential value of local parks and  recreation. Thanks to the tireless efforts of park and recreation professionals, most parks, trails and other public spaces have remained open and safe during the pandemic. Even at the peak of stay-at-home edicts, parks and trails largely remained open, and frequently served as the sole recreation opportunity available to the public. Many park and recreation agencies also have been vital contributors to their communities’ pandemic responses by delivering nutritious meals to community members in need, offering their spaces as emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness or expanding classroom capacity for schools, and providing childcare and services for families of emergency first responders and essential workers.

Each June since 2016, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Research team has surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to better understand how people connect with parks and recreation; the results of these surveys are the basis for the annual Engagement with Parks Report. This report provides park and recreation professionals and advocates, policymakers and other key stakeholders with insights about the impact that local parks and recreation facilities have on the lives of every person in our nation.

In 2020, NRPA conducted a shorter-than-typical Engagement survey because of the dynamic nature of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 study focused on a few key questions:

  • How frequently do people visit parks, trails and recreation amenities?
  • How has the pandemic affected park usage?
  • Do adults in the United States see public parks as an essential government service?
  • Are people more likely to vote for political leaders who support funding for parks and recreation?

Key findings of the 2020 Engagement with Parks Report include:

  • Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults agree that parks and recreation is essential.
  • Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents indicate that having a high-quality park, playground, public open space or recreation center nearby is an important factor in deciding where they want to live.
  • U.S. residents visit local park and recreation facilities more than twice a month on average.
  • Three in five U.S. residents — more than 190 million people — visited a park, trail, public open space or other recreation facility at least once during the first three months of the pandemic (mid-March through mid-June 2020).
  • Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults are more likely to vote for local political leaders who make park and recreation funding a priority.

Click Here to download the entire report.

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