Profile of Georgia Recreation and Park Association
The Georgia Recreation and Park Association was formed in 1945 as a private, non-profit Institution to support and promote the recreation and park industries within the state of Georgia. It is the only state organization that serves as an advocate for quality recreation and park areas, facilities, programs and services at the local level. The Association is governed by a 34 member Board of Trustees and has a membership in excess of 1600. Membership is determined by an individuals interest and a sliding dues scale. For administrative purposes the state is divided into seven geographic districts and each district has an elected District Commissioner which automatically sits on the Board. Administration of the Association includes an Executive Director and Support Staff located in Conyers, Georgia. The Georgia Recreation and Park Association’s mission includes, promoting healthy life styles through the utilization of park facilities and recreation services for the well being of each citizen individually and the community as a whole, insuring that park and recreation services are available, and providing organized, supervised activity as a means of prevention for a number of circumstances (disease, stress, etc.) including the prevention of juvenile delinquency. The Association membership is made up of public agencies, private businesses, educational institutions, clinical settings and citizen advocates whose primary responsibility is to provide recreation opportunities. These professionals look to the Association for support in obtaining funding, providing technical assistance and keeping recreation issues viable for public debate.
The Association believes that the delivery of recreation and park services in the state has tremendous impact economically, environmentally and socially. In facilitating this impact the focus is on the following areas:
1. Funding for recreation and parks for acquisition, development and renovation of recreation facilities and parks.
2. Creating positive environments and programs for children and youth through expanded and improved activities focusing on self esteem, motivation, life skills, education, and prevention programs to help young people deal with changing social pressures.
3. Protecting, preserving and utilizing rights of ways, wet lands, river corridors and other natural resources.
4. Communicating the significant economic impact of quality recreation and parks services.
5. Supporting funding for the arts.
6. Supporting action and legislation for the delivery of recreation and park services to all citizens noting the significant needs of youth, senior citizens and the physically/mentally challenged.
7. The Association reiterates the value of parks and recreation services as a vital aspect of communities, personal life style and citizen rights.
Recreation and Health Policy Statement
We believe that active recreation for all people is vital to the promotion and maintenance of general health and wellness. Similarly, leisure and recreation are critical to the rehabilitation process for those with disabilities or limitations. The national network of local, state and federal recreation and park agencies can and do play a significant role in facilitating such activities.
The relationship between recreation, disease prevention and health promotion is substantiated by findings which recognize that light to moderate activity, typical of many recreation activities, can help prevent and manage many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and high blood pressure (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). In addition, recreation and leisure activities positively impact mental health by reducing anxiety and stress and increasing self-esteem (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). For many people with arthritis, regular physical activity helps to relieve pain and maintain joint mobility (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
Public policies and actions increasingly reflect recreation-health relationships. For example, the national park service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating to promote the development, use and benefits of close-to-home parks and recreation infrastructure to support physical activity. This agreement encourages similar activities and arrangements between other entities and agencies. It also symbolizes the beginning of a shift to a national strategy that recognizes the importance of prevention rather than an exclusive focus on suffering and loss after the onset of illness or injury.
Similarly, the National Recreation and Park Association, in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, is urging public recreation and park officials to incorporate cardiovascular health promotion elements into existing or future park and recreation programs. This partnership results in important health promotion messages and materials that recognize the role of park resources and recreation services in fostering healthy communities.
While active recreation can positively affect physical and emotional health, inactivity by contrast is one of the major underlying causes of premature death in the United States. Inactivity accounts for as many as 23 percent of all deaths from major chronic diseases the nation’s leading killers (National Center for Health Statistics). In addition, the United States spends proportionally more for health care-an estimated 15 percent of the GDP than any other nation (General Accounting Office). Absent an aggressive, comprehensive strategy that incorporates health maintenance and disease prevention designed to influence personal lifestyle, school curricula, community and business settings, health care costs will continue to increase beyond present levels and the quality of life for millions of Americans will steadily decrease.
Statement of Policy
Fostering a practical relationship between recreation, health and wellness is an integral part of the agendas of the National Recreation and Park Association and Georgia Recreation and Park Association. Thus, it is the policy of the associations to:
1.Encourage public park and recreation and military recreation authorities to plan and actively promote the health and wellness aspects of recreation services and facilities, independently and in collaboration with others, including local public health officials, local school systems, and other appropriate public and private entities.
2.Encourage the Congress, state legislature and local authorities to include specific references to the value of recreation and therapeutic recreation in appropriate public laws and regulations on health and wellness; encourage policy makers to adequately invest in high quality, accessible recreation programs and services; and encourage the inclusion of appropriate and documentable recreation-based health outcomes in national health strategies. Seek optimum mental health and positive attitudes by promoting the inclusion of all individuals in recreation programs, based upon interests and assessed needs.
3.Encourage professional managed health organizations and other private providers to form partnerships with public recreation and park entities to include utilization of public programs and facilities.
4.Form partnerships and networks with institutions of higher learning, governments, private foundations, businesses and health care organizations to exchange information on education, training, research and management and to share such information with others.
5.Encourage NRPA state affiliates and other recreation-related organizations to continue and/or initiate recreation programs and functions with health and wellness objectives and positive outcomes.
6.Selectively sponsor or cooperate with other groups to plan and implement special events which demonstrate or reinforce recreation, health and wellness relationships. Provide the media with information and promotional materials which (1) address and highlight the importance of recreation-health relationships and identify exemplary programs; (2) increase public knowledge about recreation opportunities; and (3) annually focus at least one magazine article or other publications on recreation, health and wellness.
7.Encourage providers to maintain a safe environment when managing and conducting active recreation programs, including the use of fully qualified persons.
8.Encourage and support research to discover new perspectives on recreation, health and wellness relationships, including the impact of behavior, innovation in public policy and practices, education and training, and institutional reform and collaboration, and to share that information with others.
Georgia Recreation & Park Association, Board of Trustees