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2008 Legislative and Policy Priorities for parks and trails

NRPA's Legislative Platform for federal programs Promoting Health, Physical Activity and Recreation. See priorities for LWCF, UPARR, and RTCA programs.

From the National Recreation and Park Association

"NRPA supports national policies that promote physical activity, proper nutrition, child care, juvenile justice, and environmental sustainability."

A physically active lifestyle is a critical strategy for disease prevention and health promotion for all people. Public parks and recreation facilities offer low and no-cost opportunities to all Americans of every age, ability and income level to increase their daily physical activity and prevent chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as generally improve mental and physical health.

In order to achieve recommended daily levels of physical activity, children and adults need access to close-to-home places to recreate. NRPA urges Congress to reverse the recent trend of decreased federal support for parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, senior centers, and trails that enable active lifestyles.

The federal government must take the lead in developing policies, practices, and the funding mechanisms that can change the social and physical components of the built environment to promote physical activity and to encourage healthy lifestyles. Congress should allocate adequate funding to support the increased sponsorship of nutrition programs, expansion of child-care support services, and youth development initiatives.

PLAY Every Day Act Legislation - S. 651 and HR 2045

The PLAY Every Day Act is intended to promote the national recommendations for physical activity for kids, families, and communities. The Act authorizes the creation of a Community Play Index to identify and define important elements within a community that enable and empower youth and families to be physically active on a regular basis.

  • NRPA, in partnership with a coalition of national organizations, supports adoption of the PLAY Every Day Act of 2007.

Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act of 2007 (IMPACT) Legislation - HR 2677

The Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act of 2007 (IMPACT) would establish funding for grants to local governments to provide health services for improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and obesity prevention. The bill would authorize grants to local communities, provide funding to conduct research, and make grants for training. Grantees would work with state and local parks and recreation departments, as well as local departments of transportation and planning, to develop comprehensive plans to encourage healthy levels of physical activity and healthy eating behaviors. Grants could be used to develop after-school and weekend community activities utilizing recreational facilities.

  • NRPA supports passage of the IMPACT Act of 2007.

Centers for Disease Control State-Based Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases (CDC-DNPAO)

Appropriation - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) administers this program to help Americans achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Currently, state health departments in more than 20 states receive funds to address inadequate physical activity and poor nutrition in communities. Seven additional states receive larger grant amounts to implement interventions, disseminate effective policies, and conduct surveillance and communications campaigns. Local public park and recreation agencies play an essential role in implementing and developing these state initiatives in collaboration with their state health departments.

The President's budget for FY 2009 would fund the CDC-DNPAO program at $42 million.

  • NRPA supports full funding for the CDC-DNPAO program at $65 million for FY 2009. » Healthy Lifestyle and Prevention America Act (HeLP) Legislation S. 1342 and HR 2633

The HeLP Act seeks to improve the health of Americans and reduce health care costs by reorienting the nation's health care system towards prevention, wellness and self-care. This legislation would convene a taskforce on childhood obesity and establish a National Advisory Committee on Community Sports Programs for Individuals with Disabilities. It would provide employer and employee tax credits for fees paid to athletic or fitness facilities on behalf of employees, provide for the development of a tool to measure community barriers to participating in physical activity, and provide grants for the development of model communities of play.

  • NRPA supports passage of the HeLP Act. » Personal Health Investment Act (PHIT) Legislation - HR 245

This bill would expand pre-tax medical spending accounts to include exercise class registrations, sports league fees, fees charged by recreation centers, and money spent on essential equipment to participate in such programs. Fees charged to participate in healthy lifestyle programs (such as Weight Watchers or Smoke Enders) could also be paid for using pre-tax funds. If this bill were to become law, individuals would be able to allocate up to $1,000 as a tax deductible medical expense.

  • NRPA supports passage of HR 245.

Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP)

Appropriations-Department of Education

This program provides competitive grants to local educational agencies and community based organizations to support the initiation, expansion, and improvement of physical education programs (including after school programs). The President's budget proposal did not include any funds for this program in FY 2009.

  • NRPA supports appropriations of $100 million for PEP in FY 2009.

Rehabilitative Service's Administration Recreational Program Grants

Appropriations - U.S. Department of Education

The Department of Education's Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA) maintains a competitive grant program to provide recreation and related activities for individuals with disabilities to aid in their employment, mobility, independence, socialization, and community integration.

The President's budget for 2009 would not fund the RSA grant program for therapeutic recreation services.

  • NRPA supports restoration of RSA funding at $3 million for FY 2009.

Supporting Youth Development and Livable Communities

There is increasing recognition of the value that public parks and recreation play in promoting the quality of life and livability of American communities. Livable communities enable residents to enjoy and improve their mental and physical health; conserve and protect natural and cultural resources and open spaces; responsibly use energy resources; and enjoy a clean, healthy environment. Public parks and public recreation resources rank in the top tier of any community livability index. Federal policies must promote sound policies and engage the widest sector of public and private participation in ensuring the benefits of livable communities.

No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) Legislation - HR 3036 and S.1981

The No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI), introduced in 2007 in the House as HR 3036 and in the Senate as S.1981, would enable the states to create plans to develop environmental literacy in students; provide funding for teacher training in environmental education; and provide funding to develop state and national capacity in environmental education. This legislation contains no new federal mandates or testing requirements. Public park and recreation agencies and other governmental entities would be authorized as eligible partners. The environmental education components of NCLI are expected be included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also called No Child Left Behind.

  • NRPA supports passage of the No Child Left Inside Act.

21st Century Community Learning Centers Appropriations

U.S. Department of Education

The 21st Century Learning Centers program provides grants for communities to establish or expand centers to provide extended learning opportunities for students and related services for their families during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. Grant funds are allocated to states, who in turn are authorized to make competitive awards to school districts, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and public agencies for projects that primarily serve students attending schools in high-poverty areas. This program is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also called No Child Left Behind) and would be included in the reauthorization of the Act.

The President's budget proposes only $800 million for this important program, a cut of over 27% from 2008 levels. Additionally, the Administration would significantly alter the program's formula-based grants to states which would then award grants to public or private organizations to provide scholarship or extended learning opportunities to low-income students in underperforming schools.

NRPA supports reauthorization of 21st Century Community Learning Centers at $1.1 billion for FY 2009.

Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)

Appropriations - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) which provides block grants to eligible cities and urban areas. Approximately $100 million of CDBG funds are utilized annually for park and recreation projects which often are initiated along with more comprehensive community redevelopment initiatives.

The President's budget for FY 2009 included $2.9 billion for the CDBG program, a cut of more than $600 million from current funding levels. The 2008 Omnibus funding bill funded CDBG at $3.6 billion, down from the previous level of $3.7 billion.

  • NRPA supports full funding of the CDBG program at $4.2 billion for FY 2009.

Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Act - A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)

Appropriations - U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration

The multi-year reauthorization of the nation's Surface Transportation Act, SAFETEA-LU, was passed in 2006. This many-faceted bill authorizes funding for a wide variety of transportation-related spending which must be authorized annually. Programs of interest to parks and recreation include the Transportation Enhancements program, the Recreational Trails Program, Scenic Byways, the Boating Safety and Fishing Education Trust Fund, Safe Routes to School, and other transportation-related programs which would all be fully funded in FY 2009.

  • NRPA supports maintaining full funding in FY 2009 for the Recreational Trails Program, Scenic Byways, the Boating Safety and Fishing Education Trust Fund, Transportation Enhancements, and Safe Routes to School as provided in SAFETEA-LU.

Youth Development

Public park and recreation agencies have long been engaged in youth development. NRPA supports a wide variety of child and youth development programs such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, the Protection of Juvenile Justice grants, the Youth Coordination Act, and others.

  • NRPA supports making public park and recreation agencies eligible entities for federal grant funds supporting youth development.

Other Supported Appropriations, Legislation and Initiatives

  • Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • Simplified Summer Food Service Program
  • Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant
  • Title V, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • "Complete the Streets"
  • Encourage your Member of Congress to join the Congressional Youth Sports Caucus

For additional information or questions about the 2008 Legislative Platform, contact the NRPA Public Policy office in Washington, DC, at (202) 887-0290 or visit the NRPA website at for background on all supported legislation.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) annually supports a national agenda for public parks and recreation in America that will ensure:

  • Appropriate matching federal investments in local, regional, and state parks and recreation resources.
  • Conservation and stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.
  • Close-to-home access to parks and recreation resources for all.
  • National policies that promote healthy lifestyles and livable communities.

NRPA supports national policies that promote physical activity, proper nutrition, child care, juvenile justice, and environmental sustainability.

NRPA believes that parks and recreation can improve the physical and mental health of every person, and that parks and recreation should be an essential public service of every community in America.

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