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[11/20/14 - 09:09 AM]
ESPN and National Recreation and Park Association Create Access to Sports Program
The $150,000 grant will help purchase needed equipment, make improvements in facilities and help local parks and recreation expand their offerings to give more children the opportunity to participate in community-based sports.

[via press release from ESPN]

ESPN and National Recreation and Park Association Create Access to Sports Program

New Collaboration Invests in Youth Sports in Underserved Communities

A new collaboration aims to level the playing field when it comes to youth sports. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and ESPN are teaming up to create the Access to Sports program, which will award grants to local park and recreation departments to improve and expand their youth sports programs, especially in underserved communities. The $150,000 grant will help purchase needed equipment, make improvements in facilities and help local parks and recreation expand their offerings to give more children the opportunity to participate in community-based sports.

Numerous research studies and reports have attributed a myriad of benefits to youth sports such as increased physical activity levels, improved academic performance and positive effects on personal development like self-confidence and leadership. However in some underserved communities there is a lack of participation in sports by youth and often less support and funds for the programs and infrastructure needs. Access to Sports aims to provide the needed support to improve access to sports in a fun, familiar and cost-effective way.

"NRPA has a long history of programs that support and improve underserved communities through parks and recreation and the benefits they provide," said Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of NRPA. "Strong parks and recreation are part of the solution to improving underserved urban communities and we believe all children should have the opportunity to experience the benefits of youth sports. We are pleased to be working with ESPN on the Access to Sports program because it will support urban parks and recreation as they provide youth the chance to get active, improve their wellbeing and be inspired to positively affect their community."

Local parks and recreation are the community hubs for youth sports and often are the driving force getting children involved in sports and inspiring them to be active. Local park and recreation departments provide opportunities for children of all abilities and backgrounds to enjoy sports and do so right in the neighborhoods and communities they reside. Park and recreation-led sports programs often emphasize teamwork and the fun of the game, and cost much less than private programs.

In 2015, the ESPN Access to Sports program will award grants in seven communities, including:

· Los Angeles, CA

· Hartford, CT

· Miami, FL

· Chicago, IL

· Charlotte, NC

· New York, NY

· Austin, TX

"This collaboration with NRPA further establishes our commitment to improving access to sports for youth around the country," said ESPN's director of corporate outreach, Angela Woods. "Ensuring that youth can enjoy sports in their local parks is vital to the ongoing health and vibrancy of that community. Through this program, we will help local parks expand access to sports by building out their sports programing, acquiring equipment and creating or refurbishing safe spaces to play."

The ESPN Access to Sports program adds to the long-standing commitment local parks and recreation has to serving our nation's youth. Park and recreation agencies across the country offer a wide variety of youth sports programs, including indoor and outdoor sports year-round. For more information, please visit, www.nrpa.org/ESPNaccesstosports.

About ESPN Corporate Outreach:

ESPN has been entertaining sports fans for more than 35 years and strives to be a responsible corporate citizen. The corporate citizenship program of ESPN encompasses our multi-faceted community initiatives, including employee volunteerism, charitable giving and cause marketing, while also utilizing our diverse media assets. ESPN strives to have a positive impact on our employees, fans and communities worldwide.

About The National Recreation and Park Association:

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 47,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.





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