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Valuable Data, Valuable YOU

2014-03-01, Department, by Daina Ajayi

As park and recreation professionals, we have a responsibility to invest in improving the quality of life within our communities. By improving our agencies, we can collectively expand our reach, increasing the impact that the park and recreation industry has on the lives of citizens across the country. The information we collect about our agencies should reveal how we are leveraging our resources and capabilities to improve lives and provide access to the parks, open spaces and facilities we strive to preserve and maintain. With changing demographics and population needs, having credible data to make effective decisions about the future is a priority. The data analyzed and collected in PRORAGIS™  enables your agency to make responsible choices to meet and address your community’s needs, which allows you to directly impact the quality of life in your area.

Increasing the collective impact of park and recreation agencies relies on our ability to measure how we are doing nationally when dealing with complex issues such as hunger, public health and youth development. National data can be analyzed to provide a glimpse into how park and recreation agencies are currently providing access to a better quality of life for all individuals.


Meals provided during the school day are the only source of food for some children. The number of agencies providing before- and after-school feeding programs has steadily increased. Summer presents a challenge of its own with both the cost of summer camp programs and the ability to provide meals to the children who are able to attend. The number of agencies providing meals during summer camp has increased in recent years to almost 35 percent.  

Often living on limited incomes, seniors also face the issue of going hungry. The number of agencies providing meals to seniors has increased steadily along with the number of seniors served each week. Using the data in PRORAGIS to develop programs that serve such needy individuals is critical to the overall wellness of our communities. 

Public Health

Promoting the well-being of communities is an essential part of encouraging individuals to take an active role and interest in addressing their health. Using the data in PRORAGIS to position your agency for funding support in the maintenance and development of facilities and healthy living activities increases your efficiency and impact. According to current data, 74.3 percent of agencies offer recreation centers, 34.1 percent offer fitness centers, 88.2 percent run adult sports leagues, 55.9 percent provide an edible garden program and 20 percent manage a farm market. Allowing residents to buy, grow and sell locally increases the impact your agency has on the local community.    

Youth Development 

Juvenile crime rates are at their highest in the after-school hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and on weekends between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Slightly more than 60 percent of agencies surveyed offer teen-specific programs. Programming aimed at teens during these times has seen immense success in reducing juvenile and community crime. Youths often struggle with developing their identities in the transition to adulthood. Many agencies have implemented juvenile crime-prevention programs, which have positively influenced entire communities and reduced overall crime. We must identify the areas of concern within our communities and utilize our parks, open spaces and facilities to turn challenges into triumphs. 

Issues such as these do not discriminate based on agency size or capability. Your data will continue to increase the power of PRORAGIS as we develop an outstanding national dataset that will improve the lives of millions. While you may think your data is only important for your agency, your contribution to the PRORAGIS database enables your peers to more accurately compare themselves to a variety of agencies, increasing the quality of information that they have to make fact-driven decisions. Your data impacts everyone who uses PRORAGIS!

We need your input on how PRORAGIS can assist the entire park and recreation community in increasing our collective impact. Share your ideas for generating the collective impact of the parks and recreation industry with us!

Daina Ajayi is NRPA's Research Specialist.

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