Monday, March 20, 2017

A Blog About a Blog

by Nancy Turnage
Member Services Coordinator
Virginia Recreation and Park Society

In my position at VRPS Central Office, I love watching the evolution of service areas and resource groups from year-to-year, and in particular, their stellar efforts at growth.  It seems that in July, when we're putting together resource group and service area ballots for the following year (yes, it starts in July), that we were just starting to get a groove going with the current year boards.

However, I am seeing greater transition between the two teams - the current and oncoming ones.  There is less "starting over" and more "picking up where we left off".

For example, Senior Resource Group is holding call-in meetings, formulating a theme-driven effort for the year, and blogging.  Aquatics Resource Group is hosting GoTo meetings, employing creative methods to expand their reach, and qualifying themselves to be a go-to resource in Virginia for aquatics training.  And, several of the event committees are charting new territory as well, into the world of webinars and Google docs and apps and WebEx.

Recently, under the guidance of Chair Heather Grubb (Special Events Coordinator, Henrico County Recreation and Parks), the Central Service Area has initiated its own blog.

So, in a sense, this is a blog about a blog.  Central Service Area is employing some newer "talent" (i.e. what some of us would consider professionals on the more youthful side) to reach a wider audience and highlight their objectives.

2017 is off to a great start!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Dancing for the Heart and Mind

by Adriana Carr, MPA
Senior Center Director
Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation


“There are short cuts to happiness and dancing is one of them” – Vicki Baum.


It’s time to start talking about dancing.  Why? Well so many of us work with participants who are crazy about dancing. Most of all, because it’s fun and being ambassadors of fun is one of the many hats we wear.  If you’re looking to add extra pizazz to your programming, consider more dance.

According to a Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter, dance is one of those activities that exercises both the brain and body.  Learning new steps or patterns activates the neurons and moving to music moves your body.  There are also the benefits that are gained from listening to music when exercising.

For those of you who love the science of things, dancing improves motor function, memory, spatial recognition and increases endorphin levels.  Dance is also utilized as a way to treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.  On the social and big picture side, a whole group of people moving to music, smiling and having a great time is always a wonderful sight to see.

Scheduling any type of partner dance program always brings with it the challenge of one gender outnumbering the other.  That’s why line dancing is a perfect choice.  No partner necessary!  The music that accompanies a line dance can be as varied as the choreography.  Country western, Motown or popular dance music are all good choices.  The complexity of the dance can also vary according to the level of the people doing the dances.  The most important thing is that everyone can dance.

Of course, there are some sticky details to consider.  I have on one occasion or two blindly set up a line dance event only to be flummoxed by the different definitions of dance levels.  To me a beginner dance is for someone who barely knows their right foot from their left.  That’s not quite right apparently.  There are several levels: beginner, beginner-beginner,  just getting started beginner, dance newbie (different from beginner-beginner) and new beginner.  I gave up before I could even get to the next level!  That’s where having a season line dance teacher comes in handy.  They tell you what level, steps and music are involved.

After all that, I still believe that if you want to improve your fun credentials, you can’t go wrong with including several line dance programs.  You might even want to organize a line dance party!  Speaking of parties, we’re still hoping to coordinate a state-wide line dance event.  What line dance levels does your center offer? What’s the most popular types of music?  Let us know.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Travels with the Awards Committee

by Sandy Kellogg

Aquatic Operations Supervisor, Mount Vernon RECenter
Fairfax County Park Authority
VRPS Aquatics Resource Group 2016 Chair
VRPS 2016 Awards Co-Chair

In case you missed the premier event of the season, it’s available online!  No, not the Oscars or even the Razzies, we just finished the VRPS Awards webinar.  It is archived on the VRPS webinar page, available for immediate viewing, and if you combine it with the upcoming Dog Park webinar can actually count forCEU’s (CEU Session Approval for Workshop Attendance), much more useful than a shiny gold statue!

We have already published blogs about the awards process, the ways to submit, even the amount of work that is represented in the number of submissions.  That’s not what I want to talk about.  What I want to talk about is much more fun, and much more important for the Awards committee.

I drive a lot through the state. The Aquatics Resource Group keeps me moving to different trainings, roundtables and meetings.  The best part about serving on the Awards Committee has been recognizing some of the amazing places and events that this state has to offer.  I am very proud to work for the Fairfax County Park Authority, and the renovation at the Watermine Family Swimming Hole is amazing and HUGE, but I will never drive through Staunton without thinking about "Irish Road Bowling", go through Henrico county without thinking to myself “it’s pronounced Hen-Rye-Co”, or see public art without wishing I could get down to Danville to walk the art trail.


The awards are not just about the plaque or the picture; it truly is about the excitement, the spirit and the pride that goes into projects all around the state.  I admit I have a soft spot for the small departments, the rural locations, and the shoestring budgets that bring such amazing programs and facilities to the people of this state.  As we go into another award season, please make sure you are letting your passion show in your applications, but more importantly know that we truly are making a difference.

Click here for a link to past winner archives and the 2017 application - recognizing excellence in 2016.

Many thanks to Boomer and Waldo, both of who inspired the Awards Webinar presenters.  Which are you?  #TEAMDOG or #TEAMCAT ??


Monday, February 27, 2017

Living Inspired and Focused as Empowered Professionals

by Adriana Carr, MPA
Senior Center Director
Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation




Finding Inspiration


Age is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been”  – David Bowie

As professionals in the fields of recreation, aging and community building our efforts serve a vast range of older adults.  Our jobs are driven by our mission to encourage older adults to remain active and social. Fostering an environment where our customers can continually find their potential and grow into their visions of themselves takes inspiration, work and a multi-faceted approach to professional development.

Committing to find inspiration and stay focused on our mission empowers us as professional and subsequently empowers the people with whom we work.  There are already a variety of tools available to us.  For example, NRPA's January edition of Parks&Recreation focuses on active aging. One article, Older Adults: Exploring their changing demographics and health outlook points to increasing numbers of older adults by M. Jeanne Keller (pp37-39), is a really good read for the recreation professional who works with older adults.  This demographic is expected to increase their involvement in “municipal recreation, fitness and wellness programs" when they retire.

For the proactive recreation professional the following four programming models presented in this article provide recommendations to meet this diverse and growing demand.  A brief synopsis follows:

Flourish over a cup of coffee


For the younger older adult, implementing a program based on the café model may be the way to boost participant engagement.  Expanding on the coffee house concept  this model provides opportunities for learning and socializing.  According to Keller, this kind of program can increase participation by 57%.  A typical visit would start with a cup of coffee and then proceed on to an educational seminar or social event. Some café based programs offer exercise classes as well.

Virtual Senior Programs


Based on the technology model, this approach looks to fill the access gap.  Whether for health, economic or transportation reasons not all older adults have the opportunities to reap the benefits that come from being involved in a senior recreation program.  Whether it involves establishing a virtual senior center, groups conversations via telephone or computer classes, technology then becomes a medium that helps older adults stay connected to their community.

A Lifetime of Learning


While some may think that learning stops at college, there are an increasing number of retirees who continue to flourish by broadening their horizons through continuous learning.  That could mean taking courses in foreign languages, applying for a professional certification, going back for additional formal education or pursuing a new hobby.  The research behind lifelong learning model is based on the idea that the brain has a continuous ability to learn. This improves a person’s well-being, self-perception and ability to adapt to change.

Promoting the Dimensions of Wellness


In general, these are programs that address the various facets of humans.  Depending on the source, there are either six or seven dimensions of wellness.  The goal is to create innovative programs based on active aging research.  Partnering with local universities, hospitals, local and state governments are several ways to present evidence based programs that benefit your participants and their changing needs.   Some examples include fall prevention programs, fraud awareness, art appreciation and college level courses. 

Which model would work with your customers? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks.






Monday, February 20, 2017

LEARN, TRANSFORM, INSPIRE

by Jacqueline M. Johnson
Facilities Manager
City of Norfolk Recreation, Parks and Open Space
VRPS 2016 Graduate

WOW!!!! LTI 2016 was the absolute best conference I’ve attended to date. It lived up to the hype – LEARN, TRANSFORM, INSPIRE! was the theme. The conference was rooted in the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (shout out to all the ENFJ family – sorry…I digressed) which lead to so many light bulb moments. Being with so many different personalities within our profession helped me LEARN why we do what we do and how each person has an equally positive impact in the field (it also justified my quirkiness but who’s judging).

As the conference progressed, the sessions got more and more….relevant. Man, did the planning committee hit a home run!! We discussed everything from, how authenticity inspires action, cultivating teams, clarifying roles, investing in employees, dealing with organization change, shared leadership, TRANSFORMing organizations, nose jousting (yes…just like it sounds) and we even sang!

The bottom line is, VRPS recognizes the importance of offering high quality, professional development opportunities to help local municipalities grow, INSPIRE our patrons and help them become better people. If you are considering attending LTI in 2018…DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! (in my best peer pressure voice). You won’t regret it!!





Monday, February 13, 2017

Virginia Senior Games: What are they?

by Nancy Turnage
Member Services Coordinator
VRPS Central Office


This is an update on a blogpost from days past - about 845 days past, actually.

In October, 2014, I was working on results from my 2nd Virginia Senior Games.  Now, in February, 2017, we're working on registration, coordinating, and all the other tasks that go into producing a great event.  It seems that the Virginia Senior Games are still doing their thing - making people happy, encouraging activity, and continually proving that "you're only as old as you feel".

A few weeks ago, I returned from the 2017 National Senior Games Conference.  There were representatives from most states, and we learned much about what's happening outside our own Games.  For example, North Dakota is embarking on their first games ever this year.  Massachusetts is a proponent of SAFE testing for athletes (Senior Athlete Fitness Exam), and Florida holds its games in December - to accommodate, among others, those athletes who did not qualify for National Senior Games earlier in the year and want one last go.  We discussed registration and results and marketing and funding.  We shared sponsorship ideas and terminology and successes and failures.  And, mostly, we marveled at the great opportunity that the Senior Games provides for communities all over the country.

So, please enjoy the story below.  Because it's a story that's worth telling, and sharing.



Virginians, like the rest of America, are riding the age wave:

  • Roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 today, and this will continue every day through 2030 (Pew Research Center).
  • An American turns 50 every 7 seconds – that’s more than 12,500 people every day (US Census).
  • The senior age group is now, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percent of the population in the U.S. By 2015, those aged 50 and older will represent 45 percent of the U.S. population (AARP).




The Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS) is a private, non-profit professional organization, founded in 1953. Its purpose is to unite all professionals, students, and interested lay persons engaged in the field of recreation, parks, and other leisure services in the Commonwealth of Virginia. VRPS is affiliated with the National Recreation and Park Association.

In keeping with its mission to promote parks and recreation to the benefit of Virginians, VRPS produces the Virginia Senior Games (VSG), an annual athletic event offering competition in over 21 sports over the course of 4 days for participants aged 50 and older. The first Virginia Senior Games were held in 1978 in Richmond and presented contests in 14 sports. The Games move around the state and are typically hosted in the same locality for four years before moving on. Athletes today can compete in upwards of 21 sports, ranging from Archery to Volleyball and most everything in between. Recent, popular additions include Pickleball, Cycling, and Disc Golf.



The Virginia Senior Games is a qualifying competition for the National Senior Games, which take place every other year. VSG is also an open event, so that no scores or times are required for entry. Athletes can compete in multiple sports, and out-of-state sportspersons are welcome. Competition adheres to National Senior Games rules, and medals are awarded in each age category (5-year increments). Additionally, athletes and their guests are treated to an annual Athletes’ Party and Wellness Fair, based on a new festive theme each year and offering activities, musical entertainment, and snacks, all in keeping with a showcase for services and resources for healthy lifestyles in Virginia.

Clearly, the benefits to VSG athletes are monumental – the physical demands of competition encourage participants to train year-round, in many cases. This preparation also lends itself both to greater daily structure and socializing. And, needless to say, winning, losing, and teamwork are their own reward. However, one might wonder if the true winners are the volunteers and spectators.

  • To witness a 101-year-young swimmer complete in both 50m and 100m freestyle swimming races, and thereby set World Records, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
  • To watch a 77-year-young Vietnam War veteran tossing horseshoes and bowling balls from his wheelchair, where he has sat since 1963 as the only survivor of his combat helicopter flight, is a privilege.
  • To meet a 50-something-year-young road racer who competes wearing a fluffy pink tutu is a lesson in what matters.
For some, especially the women, VSG is the first time in their lives that they have the opportunity to learn and experience the value of sport competition. Every athlete has a story – and it begins back home, during the course of their training and their decision to compete in the Virginia Senior Games. For example, that 101-year old swimmer drove herself to the pool every morning at 5am to train. That “horseshoer” was an advocate for ADA and spent most of his life working with autistic individuals. The road racer … well she’s simply a knockout ….

Virginia Senior Games fun facts:

  • 2017 is the 39th year of the Virginia Senior Games.
  • Competition is offered in: Archery, Badminton, Basketball, Billiards, Bowling, Canasta, Cycling, Disc Golf, Golf, Horseshoes, Mini Golf, Pickleball, Pinochle, Racquetball, Road Race, Shuffleboard, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Track & Field, and Volleyball.
  • Athletes must be 50 on or before December 31 of the competition year in order to participate.
  • Team competition is offered in both Basketball and Volleyball.
  • Partners and teams compete in the age group of the youngest participant.
  • Registration for the games begins at the beginning of the year, and the games take place mid-May.
  • Henrico County Recreation and Parks will be hosting the 2017 games.
  • To learn more about Virginia Senior Games, visit www.virginiaseniorgames.org
  • To enjoy photos and more, visit www.facebook.com/Virginia.Senior.Games
In memory of Samuel “Doc” Morton (September 20, 1937 – July 8, 2014) and all the others who will not return to the Games in 2017. Thank you for your years of exemplary athletic dedication and competition.

Visit the Virginia Senior Games webpage
Interested in becoming a sponsor or Wellness Expo exhibitor?
See all the fun on Facebook!
Enjoy the latest Athlete E-Blast
View the 2017 Registration Brochure