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New resources from NRPA: How parks and recreation has responded to the pandemic

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New resources from NRPA: How parks and recreation has responded to the pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, parks and recreation agencies have been essential partners in supporting community wellbeing and reopening efforts. According to a survey conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), more than 190 million U.S. residents visited a park, trail, or other public space at least once during the first three months of the pandemic—fifty-two percent of people indicate that their use of local parks has increased and eighty-three percent of U.S. adults agree that visiting their local parks, trails, and open spaces have been essential for their mental and physical well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to providing a safe space for community members to exercise, gather in socially distant ways, and find a bit of peace among nature, parks and recreation agencies are supporting students and families this fall by providing extended childcare hours to accommodate for virtual learning and adjusted school-day schedules, providing Wi-Fi to support virtual learning for those families without or with limited access, supplying meals, and offering spaces for schools in need of additional facilities to follow new health and safety guidelines. Out-of-school-time (OST) programs play a major role in facilitating these services.

How can parks and recreation programs respond to the impact of COVID-19 in their communities?

To support OST programs engaging in this work, NRPA has identified a new guide to assist programs in recognizing the ways they can best respond to the needs in their communities. “When Learning Starts: Playbook for Healthy School Communities” was developed by Kaiser Permanente and outlines many different ways that communities can address the challenges that have arisen from this “new normal.” NRPA has pulled out several key points from this guide that are especially relevant for OST programs:

  • Acknowledge the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, especially taking into consideration youth who were facing traumas and adversity before the pandemic that have been exacerbated in the last 6 months;
  • Understand the impact of COVID-19 on social drivers of health and create a network of support to meet the particular needs of families who require additional services or resources;
  • Prioritize physical activity and physical education, as access to physical activity has been severely limited in many communities with shelter-in-place orders and physical education can be a valuable space to incorporate building SEL skills; and
  • Focus on staff well-being—identifying and addressing the individual challenges that staff are facing, including financial concerns, new workplace obstacles to feeling safe, and increased stress and burnout, enables staff to feel supported and in turn better support the youth and families they work with.

What long-term impact will COVID-19 have on parks and recreation?

In recognition of the flexible role that parks and recreation agencies have played over the course of the last 6 months, NPRA has also published a piece outlining the ways that parks and recreation will change forever as a result of the pandemic, the economic recession, and the increased national attention on racism and racial inequity. The design of spaces may change physically and the funding structure of sites might shift to include a more diverse set of funding sources and partnerships. Agencies may shift to a greater focus on holistic community health, placing mental and physical health on the same level of prioritization. Parks and recreation must also address the inequities of access and health disparities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic—accordingly, six in seven park leaders note that the pandemic has impacted strategic priorities in health equity and social justice at their agency.

How can parks and recreation programs respond to the growing rates of mental health and substance use coming out of COVID-19?

One particular area of focus in addressing health disparities, especially in park and recreation spaces, is substance use and mental health—given recent challenges associated with the opioid epidemic, rising rates of mental health conditions, and the impact of COVID-19, out-of-school-time and community-based programs will have an even bigger role to play in responding to substance use and mental health challenges. NRPA has released a new report that outlines the ways that parks and recreation facilities can respond to these challenges, including how to respond to substance use occurring in parks and recreation spaces, how to support community members impacted by substance use, and how to focus their efforts on prevention. Including case studies and recommendations for best practices, the report is a comprehensive look into the many different levels of community response and the role that out-of-school time programs can play in this response.

For more resources from the National Recreation and Park Association on how programs can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, check out their Path to Recovery.

Help us tell the story of afterschool AND win a chance at a cash prize

We need your help to keep the drumbeat going on the ways in which COVID-19 is impacting afterschool and summer programs and the young people and families who rely on them. By completing this short survey, which should take no more than 10-15 minutes of your time, you are helping to tell your...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/20/20

Survey: 70% of programs are still serving kids during COVID

For the past four months, I have heard stories from the field about the hardships afterschool program staff are seeing in their community and the creative ways they have adapted their programming to support the children and families they serve. From adjusting operations to serve children of...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/04/20

New issue brief: How afterschool is supporting learning and recovery during COVID-19

During a media briefing last week, “The School Reopening Dilemma: New Survey Sheds Light on the Role Out-of-School-Time Programs Can Play in Educating Students and Supporting Families This Fall,” it was revealed that 70 percent of afterschool program providers reported serving students...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/31/20

5 regional differences when looking at the impact of COVID-19 on afterschool

The significant challenges programs, families, and communities face as a result of the coronavirus is evident. As the situation continues to be in constant flux, the Afterschool Alliance is conducting ongoing surveys to track and monitor the evolving needs of afterschool and summer programs as the...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/30/20

4 big questions from the Advancing Equity through Summer and School Year Partnerships webinar

Earlier this month, the Forum for Youth Investment hosted a webinar as part of their series on the new research from the National Academies of Sciences, “Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth”, made possible by...

BY: Bella DiMarco      07/10/20

Afterschool will be critical to recovery—tell us what your community needs!

COVID-19 has impacted afterschool and summer programs across the country, with many programs having to switch to virtual programming or closing down entirely. Many young people and their families rely on these programs every day for a variety of supports, including meals, social and emotional...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      06/22/20

Recognizing the role of afterschool and summer programs and systems in reopening and rebuilding

By Deb Moroney and Jessy Newman, American Institutes for Research (AIR). As we look ahead to another month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, education, afterschool, summer, and other community-based organizations are working to address the challenges created by unexpected...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

BellXcell and the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) recently released a brief that discusses the impact of COVID-19 on learning gaps for students. Due to these unprecedented school closures, millions of students could be left without schooling for upwards of five to six months,...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

Program spotlight: ourBRIDGE for KIDS working with immigrant and refugee families amidst COVID-19

Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, ourBRIDGE for KIDS (ourBRIDGE) is an afterschool program that works with immigrant and refugee students new to the United States. The program—whose three core pillars are academic support, trauma-informed care, and cultural pride—serves...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/15/20

While collaboration between youth-serving organizations continues, gaps in service still exist

In a Forum for Youth Investment webinar, Shaping Summertime Experiences: Aligning Practice to Recommendations Recap and Resources, panelists Dr. Deborah Moroney, managing director at American Institutes for Research, and Chris Smith, president and executive director of Boston After School &...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/14/20

Council for a Strong America report depicts state-level campaign to combat childhood obesity

This report was released by Mission: Readiness, one of the five organizations that comprise Council for a Strong America, which aims to strengthen national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit, and stay out of trouble. A recent Council for a Strong America (CSA) Mission:...

BY: Bella DiMarco      08/06/20

Survey: 70% of programs are still serving kids during COVID

For the past four months, I have heard stories from the field about the hardships afterschool program staff are seeing in their community and the creative ways they have adapted their programming to support the children and families they serve. From adjusting operations to serve children of...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/04/20

New issue brief: How afterschool is supporting learning and recovery during COVID-19

During a media briefing last week, “The School Reopening Dilemma: New Survey Sheds Light on the Role Out-of-School-Time Programs Can Play in Educating Students and Supporting Families This Fall,” it was revealed that 70 percent of afterschool program providers reported serving students...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/31/20

More children are getting afterschool meals that boost their health and learning

By Clarissa Hayes. Originally published on October 25,2019 as a blog on FRAC Chat, the blog of the Food Research & Action Center.  National participation in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs — which are key to closing the hunger gap that exists afterschool for many children...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/01/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

New report: Community programs important in preventing childhood obesity

A recent article, published in the current issue of Pediatric Obesity, “The prevalence of community programmes and policies to prevent childhood obesity in a diverse sample of US communities: the Healthy Communities Study,” examines the influence of community programs and policies...

BY: Marisa Paipongna      11/26/18

Afterschool suppers and afterschool programs key to student success

By Clarissa Hayes, child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Research shows that afterschool programs provide measurable benefits to students academically, socially, and behaviorally, and serve as an important resource for families and communities. In addition...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/12/18

New issue brief: A big-picture approach to wellness

From empowering students to take charge of their health to training staff to model healthy behaviors, afterschool and summer learning programs across the country are offering safe and supportive environments that promote young people’s healthy eating and physical activity, as well as build...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

Closing the Childhood Equity Gap: New report provides a data-driven look into the prioritization of children at the state and local levels

A new report released by Save the Children provides the first-ever ranking of counties in the United States where children are most and least prioritized. The report, aptly entitled, “The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids,” shows that where...

BY: Erin Hegarty      06/26/20

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for millions of families and exacerbated existing inequities, leaving certain groups more vulnerable than others to the harmful effects of the pandemic. This week, we are turning our attention toward celebrating the ways that afterschool programs across...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

BellXcell and the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) recently released a brief that discusses the impact of COVID-19 on learning gaps for students. Due to these unprecedented school closures, millions of students could be left without schooling for upwards of five to six months,...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

What resources do staff need to support youth mental health and wellness?

By Selena Levy, director of Training at California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC).  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond....

BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

5 steps to effectively implement SEL initiatives in your community

Awareness of the importance of social and emotional learning is beginning to be reflected in policy measures. Practitioners and policymakers alike are continually recognizing that a whole-child approach is necessary for children to be well-positioned to succeed in their academic, personal, and...

BY: Erin Hegarty      02/08/19

Afterschool, community partners featured in Aspen Institute’s "Nation At Hope" report

Today’s youth must navigate a complex, economically competitive, and globally connected world. In efforts to help young people thrive, educators, parents, and leaders have historically focused on academic improvement as the key target for future success. But that’s not the whole...

BY: Dan Gilbert      01/15/19

New issue brief: A big-picture approach to wellness

From empowering students to take charge of their health to training staff to model healthy behaviors, afterschool and summer learning programs across the country are offering safe and supportive environments that promote young people’s healthy eating and physical activity, as well as build...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

Data on child well-being: How does the nation measure up?

Understanding how our youth are faring is an important aspect of not only reinforcing, but also strengthening the supports that afterschool provides. Two separate reports released this summer delved into the state of child well-being across the country, measuring our nation’s progress over...

BY: Rina Moss      09/03/19

To elevate equity, diversity, and inclusion, go deeper into your quality standards

By Femi Vance, researcher at American Institutes for Research, Board President for the California School-Age Consortium, Field Consultant for the National Summer Learning Association, and editor of Changemakers! Equity and Access in Out-of-School Time Programs. Implementing high-quality...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/23/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part III

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the tenth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of the...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/19/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part I

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the eighth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/01/19

New report on building data-driven afterschool systems within cities

A data-centric approach has potential to generate actionable information at the systematic and programmatic levels and ultimately to improve the quality and access to afterschool. The Wallace Foundation commissioned a study in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and the Gamse...

BY: Theresa Carr      06/03/19

Data sharing with afterschool leads to student success

With more than 10 million children participating in afterschool programming, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. hold crucial potential for academic, social, and emotional development that extends well beyond the school day. So how can we ensure that more students have access to high quality afterschool...

BY: Rina Moss      11/13/18

Closing the Childhood Equity Gap: New report provides a data-driven look into the prioritization of children at the state and local levels

A new report released by Save the Children provides the first-ever ranking of counties in the United States where children are most and least prioritized. The report, aptly entitled, “The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids,” shows that where...

BY: Erin Hegarty      06/26/20

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for millions of families and exacerbated existing inequities, leaving certain groups more vulnerable than others to the harmful effects of the pandemic. This week, we are turning our attention toward celebrating the ways that afterschool programs across...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Engaging the Arts Across the Juvenile Justice System: New report outlines opportunities for engagement

Arts education programs can play a significant role in preventing youth from getting involved with the juvenile justice system and supporting the mental wellbeing and successful transition out of the system for those already involved, according to a new report released by the Education Commission...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/22/20

The Power of Mentorship: Adult Friends for Youth makes a difference in redirecting youths’ lives

This blog post was adapted from a program highlight featured in Fight Crime, Invest in Kids’ report, “From Risk to Opportunity: Afterschool Programs Keep Kids Safe.” Read the full report here. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight the different ways that...

BY: Erin Hegarty      12/19/19

Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

For close to 20 years, we at the Afterschool Alliance have been dedicated to the cause of expanding afterschool opportunities because we know the life changing impact programs can have on children, on families, and on communities.  Today, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a new report that...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

Closing the Childhood Equity Gap: New report provides a data-driven look into the prioritization of children at the state and local levels

A new report released by Save the Children provides the first-ever ranking of counties in the United States where children are most and least prioritized. The report, aptly entitled, “The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids,” shows that where...

BY: Erin Hegarty      06/26/20

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for millions of families and exacerbated existing inequities, leaving certain groups more vulnerable than others to the harmful effects of the pandemic. This week, we are turning our attention toward celebrating the ways that afterschool programs across...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

BellXcell and the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) recently released a brief that discusses the impact of COVID-19 on learning gaps for students. Due to these unprecedented school closures, millions of students could be left without schooling for upwards of five to six months,...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

What resources do staff need to support youth mental health and wellness?

By Selena Levy, director of Training at California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC).  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond....

BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

4 big questions from the Advancing Equity through Summer and School Year Partnerships webinar

Earlier this month, the Forum for Youth Investment hosted a webinar as part of their series on the new research from the National Academies of Sciences, “Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth”, made possible by...

BY: Bella DiMarco      07/10/20

Recognizing the role of afterschool and summer programs and systems in reopening and rebuilding

By Deb Moroney and Jessy Newman, American Institutes for Research (AIR). As we look ahead to another month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, education, afterschool, summer, and other community-based organizations are working to address the challenges created by unexpected...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/26/20

Making the case for summer learning: A new report provides evidence and recommendations

A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wallace Foundation, takes a deep dive into the summer months, the opportunities they can provide for youth, and the best ways to connect with those youth who have...

BY: Erin Hegarty      12/02/19

Two new resources to kick-off your summer learning plans!

While the New Year has just begun and we are firmly in winter’s grasp, now is actually a great time to start planning for your summer programs. To assist in this process, the Wallace Foundation has released two brand new resources to help organize your thoughts and kick-off your first steps...

BY: Erin Hegarty      01/14/19