Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Dept. Earns National Accreditation

The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is proud to announce the department is now an accredited agency, recognized by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). The accreditation was officially awarded Monday, Oct. 7 at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Congress and Exposition in Houston, Texas,which is the largest gathering of parks and recreation professionals in the nation.

Representing the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department were department Director Steve Phillips, Assistant Director Michelle Park, Recreation Manager Shannon Keleher and Program Coordinator in charge of accreditation, Jennifer Gelfand. The department is now one of 23 agencies in the state of Florida and the third city government agency to be accredited.

“The accreditation process required us to compare our operations against 144 best industry practices and standards,” Phillips explained. “Meeting or exceeding these best practices has made us a better department, thereby more effectively able to serve our citizens in the highest-quality-possible manner!”

The CAPRA recognizes park, recreation and cultural affairs agencies for excellence in operation and service. Charged with providing high quality services and experiences, agencies across the United States turn to CAPRA Accreditation as a credible and efficient means of achieving these goals, while providing assurance to the public that the agency meets national standards of best practice. CAPRA accredits departments and agencies that provide park, recreation and cultural programs and services. Agency accreditation is available to all entities administering these systems, including municipalities, townships, counties, special districts and regional authorities, councils of government, schools and military installations.

The accreditation is the result of over two years of dedication by the department. Since the final merger of the city’s Recreation and Parks Department with the city’s Nature and Culture Divisions in 2007, work has focused on developing standards and metrics to gauge the level of service provided to the citizenry of Gainesville. Going forward, this achievement will further reinstate the department’s mission to provide and maintain the natural, recreational and cultural facilities and programs that make Gainesville a great place to live, work and visit; and that help sustain the city economically, socially and environmentally.

In addition to receiving the accreditation, Michelle Park and Shannon Keleher presented an education session entitled “Show Me the Proof: Effective Partnerships for Reducing Juvenile Crime” on Thursday, Oct. 10. This session used the Summer Heatwave series of enhanced teen programming as a best practice for achieving tangible results of the impact recreation has on a community. Gainesville Police Department and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department have reduced juvenile crime for five consecutive years, as documented by the third partner, the State Attorney’s Office. This is the second time the department has presented at the NRPA Congress on the subject because of its continued success.


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