By Heather Wood
Every day in communities across the country, the people of parks and recreation are providing essential services and making their communities better places to live, work, and play.
July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and there is no better way to celebrate than by lifting up the people who make it happen all year long! This year’s theme is “We Are Parks and Recreation,” and we want to highlight the work of our department here in Kernersville.
Parks and Recreation professionals hold a variety of positions at different levels of responsibility. Our park maintenance workers role includes all the work necessary to keep a public park area safe, clean, and operating efficiently to serve the needs of its visitors. During COVID-19, their job has taken on the additional task of confronting our most pressing health, environmental, and social challenges. While keeping busy with park upkeep, they also play a role in assisting other staff with scheduled community events, athletics, and programming. With their never-ending to-do list, they seem to make their job look easy to an average park visitor. Our department would not be where we are today without them!
Parks and Recreation professionals are dedicated to serving their communities. Due to these uncertain times, cities are now facing the difficult decision as to whether they should close, cancel, or postpone summer programs, events, and facilities. Creativity and thinking outside of the box have always been important in our field, but these last couple months it has been essential in adapting to move forward. Being able to offer quality programming, but also following the current guidelines has been a new endeavor to conquer.
Our program staff organizes and schedules activities for the community. During COVID, we have had to reassess how we offer those services in a different way. We adapted our indoor programming to a virtual platform and outdoor classrooms as gathering limits allowed. With all our programming now requiring prior registration, it has been very important that our marketing efforts be reworked as well. Our social media platforms, website, and other marketing materials have become the biggest way we spread the word about what we are offering. Our marketing staff have stayed on top of new trends, partnerships, and have creatively managed to maintain the most important component of the organization. With a small department it is always all hands on deck and that helps when you are working with a team of talented individuals. With this group effort of the program and marketing staff working so closely together, we have been able to maintain our efforts of keeping the community engaged and providing quality programming to all. If you or your child are looking for a creative outlet check out some of our offerings by visiting our website at www.KVParks.com.
Our staff also plans and coordinates many of your favorite events in Kernersville! In the past few months many tough decisions have had to be made for the safety of our staff and the community that attends our events. Fun is not cancelled; we are just in the process of reworking our plan to provide the quality of events that are safe for all. We have reinvented our Movies in the Park to be a Drive-In style event. Our featured presentation on Friday, July 17 will be FROZEN 2, so reserve your spot today by visiting us at our website!
Typically, by this time of the year, our sports would be in full swing for kids and adults. For many kids just getting a start in athletics, it is heartbreaking to know they have been unable to play this season. We unfortunately had to post-pone the start to the spring season for our athletics programs due to COVID. Our athletic staff stays up to date with regulations and what other parks and recreation departments are offering in their communities. Keeping in mind the safety of the participants and following the CDC guidelines for social distancing. Good news though is that practices are beginning to resume, and some adult leagues are starting back up! We have worked hard to be able to offer a modified playing field that may look different than normal but is allowing everyone to still get out and join in on their favorite pastimes.
This July also marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law. This landmark legislation expanded the civil rights of people with disabilities, including access to programs, activities, and services offered by state and local municipalities. The Kernersville Parks and Recreation staff is dedicated to providing adaptations, modifications, and support so that all citizens can participate in quality recreation experiences.
The department’s inclusion efforts began in 2018, with the Grand Re-Opening of the Fourth of July Park playground. With this community endeavor, the need for the department to accommodate it became apparent. The department then created an Inclusion and Adaptive Programmer position. With a strong partnership with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Community and Therapeutic Recreation program, the department hired a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and North Carolina Licensed Recreational Therapist, as a part-time graduate assistant. Their tasks included, assessing the citizens through a community input survey and creating policies and procedures for inclusion support. The department strives to surpass minimum requirements of the ADA and meet the expressed needs of participants. All members of our staff consider physical, communication, and programmatic accessibility in their area of work including programming, events, athletics, and all marketing materials.
We hope that our efforts to keep your community parks open have given you the escape that you have needed to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, all while social distancing. We are lucky to be in a profession that offers fun and exciting new activities for you and your family to try. We pride ourselves in the work that we do for the Town and our community.