December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 18

RESEARCH
Parks and Recreation Provides Important
Out-of-School Time Programming
By Kevin Roth
E
very day, park and recreation professionals make their communities
better places to live, learn, work and play. One of the most
ubiquitous park and recreation services is out-of-school time
(OST) programs. Four in five park and recreation agencies have
OST programs that serve children, ranging from infants to teenagers.
OST programs have a tremendous
impact on millions of youth across
the nation, providing safe and affordable
childcare and needed services.
Not only can these programs lead to
positive outcomes for the community,
but also they can foster a lifelong
love for parks and recreation.
In December, NRPA will release
the results from its latest survey on
OST programs. Below are some of
the report's key findings:
Top OST Program Benefits
Nearly two-thirds of park and
recreation
leaders
highlight how
providing childcare for working
parents and caregivers is a top
benefit of their park and recreation
agencies' OST programs. Similarly,
55 percent of park and recreation
professionals say that these
programs provide a safe space for
children outside of school. Half
of survey respondents place a
high value on how their programs
promote physical activity.
One in five park and recreation
professionals indicate their OST
programs
include
educational
support and supplemental learning
opportunities.
Diverse OST Programming
Park and recreation agencies deliver
diverse programs that range from
18 Parks & Recreation | DECEMBER 2 0 2 1
traditional sports and classes to mentoring
services. The vast majority of
park and recreation agencies offer opportunities
that encourage physical
activity. Ninety-four percent of park
and recreation agencies have OST
programs tied to physical activity -
in the form of free play and sports
sampling - while 83 percent offer
organized sports or fitness classes.
OST offerings also may prepare
local youth for the future and
expose them to a world beyond
that which they already know.
Seventy-four percent of agencies
offer art, music and/or cultural
activities,
while 64
percent
of
park and recreation agencies offer
programming focused on science,
technology, engineering, arts and
mathematics (STEAM). Fiftyseven
percent of agencies' OST
offerings
encourage
mindfulness
and stress reduction. Slightly more
than one-half of agencies introduce
local youth to environmental
education as a part of their OST
programs, while slightly less than
half of agencies expose kids
to
nutrition/gardening education.
Esports has become a component of
OST services at three in 10 agencies.
Innovations: A Legacy of
the Pandemic
At the start of the pandemic, most
| PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G
agencies
canceled
their
in-person
OST offerings, with an exception
of providing first responders with
childcare. In response, parks and
recreation pivoted to deliver youthoriented
programming virtually. As
the country slowly reopened, park
and recreation professionals adapted
in-person OST programs to meet
public health recommendations.
Many of these innovations will
continue for years to come. For
example, 63 percent of park and
recreation agencies will maintain
some programming previously held
indoors at their current outside
locations. Virtual OST program
offerings will remain a part of many
agencies' portfolios. Further, 45
percent of agencies will continue
their partnerships with school
districts to provide academic/
continued learning support postpandemic.
The
full
the
report
explores
barriers
the
challenges
facing many of today's
youth,
preventing
many agencies from fully delivering
their OST programs, and the
steps many agencies are taking to
ensure their OST programs are
equitable, inclusive and serve the
needs of their communities' youth.
OST programs offered through
local park and recreation agencies
are essential to thriving, equitable
communities. It is imperative that
all youth and families have access
to these critical services.
Kevin Roth is NRPA Vice President of
Research, Evaluation and Technology
(kroth@nrpa.org).

December 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of December 2021 - Parks & Recreation

December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 3
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 4
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 5
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 6
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 7
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 12
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 18
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com