Sharing the Good News

in Parks and Recreation

Parks and recreation have never been more relevant, and agencies are rising up to unprecedented challenges to provide innovative essential services. It is a critical time to lock arms and help the industry by sharing lessons learned. The current times are challenging but amidst the whirlwind are profound successes and champions that need to be heard.

The following highlights are excerpted from Good News: In Parks, a bi-monthly, interactive Zoom show where leading park and recreation professionals share best practices across relevant topics that inform their work and the resulting positive impacts on community well-being. Some of their recommended best practices include:  


  • Provide monthly budget forecast for transparent financial reporting to the public
  • Increase participation in community meetings with virtual meetings
  • Utilize latest data from health departments, CDC, and others to make timely decisions
  • Provide weekly video communication to share fun recreation ideas with parents and families
  • Conduct one-on-one virtual meetings to perform assessments and training before people join in-person activities at park facilities
  • Identify and communicate needs so local residents can help with donations, volunteer time, and durable goods
  • Use social media platforms to communicate information about parks and services


  • Invest in technology and train staff members to utilize virtual learning tools so they can teach parents and children 
  • Partner with neighboring communities to create a task force to plan for schools, parks, and city services in a unified way
  • Expand community outreach to better understand the diverse and changing needs of families
  • Plan to use virtual meetings in the future to gain more input from the community now and after the pandemic is over
  • Partner with foundations and local businesses to provide offsite recreation, e-learning, and camp programs
  • Use technology to provide classes and programs online in virtual settings
  • Use park facilities as alternative learning sites for community schools with supervised learning, WiFi, and other resources for students

Health & Wellness

  • Focus on outdoor health and wellness programs for staff members, as well as community members
  • Partner with health departments and healthcare centers to provide flu shots and other medical screenings
  • Use parks as community gardens and farms to produce food for families in need 
  • Work with local gyms and fitness centers to provide outdoor space/instruction for exercise classes
  • Perform assessments and wellness checks by phone, virtual meetings, and in-person when appropriate
  • Provide services to address the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of all people to prevent skill regression

Staffing & Funding

  • Explore ways to combine positions, increase volunteer opportunities to maintain staffing and provide consistent services
  • Shift senior adult programs to be self-directed instead of instructor-led
  • Shift personnel to other city services to avoid furloughs and staff reduction
  • Provide tools to families so children can participate in recreation activities at home
  • Reallocate personnel and resources to field services and refurbish site amenities, trails, and more
  • Work with all levels of government to leverage resources efficiently, seek out additional funding, coordinate efforts at local, state, and federal levels
  • Seek out partnerships and sponsors for special events, additional recreation projects, volunteer staff, maintenance of facilities
  • Partner with nonprofit organizations to fund and provide essential services
  • Offer naming rights to corporate partners for park facilities 
  • Consider federal grants to help support development of community gardens 

Increased services

  • Keep parks and trails open (including restrooms for hand washing and personal hygiene)
  • Partner with surrounding communities to offer therapeutic recreation to more people
  • Use virtual programming to offer more services 
  • Create an online activity center with virtual tours, activity sheets, instructional videos and other services
  • Coordinate with public and private organizations to provide space in parks for additional community services
  • Provide day care and childcare at recreation centers in vulnerable neighborhoods
  • Provide daily meals for children and families, and safe spaces for underserved citizens
  • Create virtual content for people who aren't yet comfortable with in-person recreation
  • Add WiFi to facilities so families have access to the internet in parks 
  • Set up brush recycling centers to help homeowners remove yard waste, then convert yard waste to mulch for homeowner use 
  • Offer meal preparation and service for families in need (parks departments are the second largest provider of meals - only schools serve more people)
  • Create Grab and Go recreation kits for use at home

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