The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day and yet research shows a significant drop in the time children are playing outside. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. children are not getting enough vitamin D, an increasingly common deficiency that has been linked with heart disease & diabetes. Childhood obesity has also increased in recent years at an alarming rate. The solution? Mounting research reveals the physical developmental benefits children experience from outside play on playground equipment structures.

Parks and recreation organizations across the United States are dedicated to increasing the amount of time spent playing, exploring and enjoying the great outdoors. The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) is dedicated to improving the health of communities for all people through parks, recreation and conservation. Their mission: to advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people.

Each year they hold an annual conference, bringing together outdoor enthusiasts and tradesmen from across the nation. This year’s conference was held just last week, September 25- 27, in Indianapolis with over 8,000 industry professionals in attendance. Conference highlights included a local host golf tournament, treetop adventure outing, keynote speaker sessions, a fun run and the best awards ceremony.

Thousands of attendees earned continuing education units (CEUs) at NRPA education sessions, boosting qualifications and, in many cases, satisfying certification requirements. Education sessions included keynote speakers, speed sessions, research sessions, hands-on practical instruction and mobile workshops.

The annual conference provided educational tracks in the following parks and recreation disciplines:

  • Advocacy
  • Aquatics
  • Conservation
  • Employee/Volunteer Management
  • Health & Wellness
  • Leadership & Management
  • Planning, Design and Maintenance
  • Professional Development
  • Public Relations/Marketing
  • Recreation & Sports Programming
  • Research & Evaluation
  • Revenue/Customer Service

The NRPA Annual Conference featured an exhibit area where parks and recreation manufacturers and innovators showcased their products and services to industry professionals. We exhibited at NRPA this year and what a great experience it was to network with others in the field and share what we have to offer in playground and recreation innovation.

Most everyone at the conference shares a passion for the great outdoors. The conference enabled industry professionals to network, share ideas and work together to increase access to parks and recreation for all people. This year’s annual conference was a huge success, providing a glimpse into the latest and greatest in parks and recreation.