girl in mask sitting at picnic table holding up flower artworkOhio Business Magazine awarded the Centerville-Washington Park District (CWPD) a 2021 Ohio Success Award. The award honors organizations across the state who rapidly responded and innovated when faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of the places the community goes for recreation, relaxation, exercise and rejuvenation were closed or extremely limited by the pandemic. With outdoor recreation one of the few remaining options, CWPD actively focused attention on encouraging the community to get outdoors safely. We quickly pivoted away from our existing spring program plan. Instead, we generated dozens of self-guided, family and adult recreation alternatives with kits, videos and social media-based instruction within weeks of the early spring shutdown. Staff created an abundance of self-guided challenges to give park visitors the chance to solve a mystery, try geocaching, see all 51 CWPD parks, and even spot Bigfoot lurking in the forest! Families could participate safely and on their own schedule.

The Park District modified popular summer nature day camps to practice COVID-19 safety protocols. Children enjoyed the outdoors without a single case of COVID-19 reported by participants or staff. Hot on the heels of summer camps, we worked with local youth sports organizations to comply with State of Ohio guidelines. Soccer, football and baseball programs went off without a hitch in the fall.

CWPD Program Manager Kristen Marks said, “We are proud to offer many park amenities to the community, such as playgrounds, sports fields and multi-use trails. However, we know variety and encouragement is important. Self-guided programming gave hundreds of community members the opportunity to beat isolation and safely get outdoors. We hope that the creativity and determination of staff to continue to be of service contributed to the ongoing physical and mental health of our residents.”

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