Monday, October 28, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 44, Accreditation

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

My first thought when encountering the word "accreditation", I must admit, is that it's hard to spell.  My second thought, which is more an impression, is another A-word:  admiration.


Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools, and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards.  The accreditation process is also known in terms of its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education. But such definitions, though accurate, are incomplete.
NRPA has its own definition, with clear roots from the world of academia, and also offers two flavors:


Accreditation is a distinguished mark of excellence that affords external recognition of an organization's commitment to quality and improvement. Accreditation has two fundamental purposes; to assure quality and to assure improvement. The National Recreation and Park Association administratively sponsors two distinct accreditation programs.

The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT)accredits baccalaureate programs in parks, recreation, tourism, sport management, event management, therapeutic recreation, and leisure studies, within the United States and its territories, Canada, and Mexico. COAPRT is the only accreditation of recreation, park resources and leisure services curricula recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) provides quality assurance and quality improvement of accredited park and recreation agencies throughout the United States. CAPRA is the only national accreditation of park and recreation agencies, and is a valuable measure of an agency’s overall quality of operation, management, and service to the community.
Virginia is the proud home of 5 accredited university baccalaureate programs and 6 accredited park and recreation agencies (bolded denotes VRPS membership):

The accreditation process is rigorous, time-consuming, and a financial investment.  Congratulations to these organizations for investing in themselves.


Monday, October 21, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 43, Mascots

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

Does your organization have a mascot?  Do you dress someone up in a cute, fuzzy costume several times each year and parade them around at special events?

"The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – informally this includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name."

So why are we so drawn to mascots?  Why do we identify with them and remember their likes and looks, and why do we get a tingle of excitement to catch a sighting?

According to Jill Purdy of All Ears Jackrabbit Blog, the reasons are many, and simple.

Mascots add value.
(People) identify with mascots that may have some things in common with them. They feel that they have a buddy – even if they are a bit nervous about the class or the topic.

Animals inspire children and adults.
Jill Robbins of the National Capital Language Resource Center writes that animal mascots can often be very effective when used as part of a learning strategy. Two elementary school teachers used a stuffed monkey to help their students learn how monitor their behavior in school. They could then transfer this concept to academic work. 

Help with serious topics.
With the help of animal mascots, even topics like radiation dangers can be successfully taught to children. Children in Fukushima learn how to stay safe from radiation from a grinning, yellow cartoon bird named Kibitan.

We need mascots.Mascots relax, entertain, and distract us ... mascots surface throughout our history. What was Captain America? A superhero, a symbol ... a mascot.  He did things no other man could do and stood for something greater than himself - exactly what we expect from our mascots! Mascots are especially ingrained in sports history.
Raised on mascots.

As children we are provided with them over and over again – Big Bird and Cookie Monster of Sesame Street fame, for example.
Our food even has mascots. Which ones do you remember from your childhood? Tony the Tiger? Ronald McDonald?

So you're sold - you want a mascot to promote your organization.  How do you begin?  According to "The Effective Marketer", there are four steps to success:

  1. Give the brand human traits
  2. Create a life, backstory to your character/mascot
  3. Plan for the long run
  4. Don’t overcomplicate

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 42, Treating the Blues

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

I live in Central Virginia, and for the past 8 days, it was rainy, gray, chilly, and basically a downer.  I think most in our VRPS community had similar climatic experiences.  Even the most upbeat people were singing the weather blues by Day 4 or 5.

Personally, I grow lethargic, like a sleeping cat.  When I make myself get out, I'm fine, but it is difficult to be motivated.  At its deepest, most somber level in our society, this lethargy and hindered "outdoor access" can become something much more serious:

"... studies report a link between low nature access with increases in deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), clinical depression, stress, and anxiety." - NRPA, Synopsis of 2010 Research Papers, Page 4

"Spending time in green environments can relieve not only anxiety and stress, but also sadness and depression" - NRPA, 2010 Parks and Other Green Environments: Essential 
Components of a Healthy Human Habitat, Page 20

The source list goes on and on -

According to, exercise, social support, and stress reduction are three lifestyle changes that we can make to keep the blues at bay.  Winter is coming, and with it comes more gray skies, shorter days, and colder, outdoor-inhibiting temperatures that can lead to greater individual isolation and therefore a "lax" in these positive lifestyle promotions.

Out of curiosity  I perused several of the Program Guides offered by our member Agencies.  It is nothing short of inspiring to see the sampling of outdoor activities being offered:

  • Caving
  • Garden Cardio
  • Astronomy
  • Hunter Education
  • Bicycle Maintenance
  • Equestrian
  • Family Adventure
  • Environmental Education
  • Snow Sports
  • Trips
  • Outdoor Survival Skills

Likewise, it's a pleasure to see the creativity implemented in designing indoor activities:

  • Technology
  • Aqua Cycling
  • Printmaking
  • Recovery Classes
  • Fencing
  • Judo
  • Social Clubs
  • Fiber Arts
  • Hobby Crafts
  • Diving
  • Printmaking
Parks and recreation plays a part of a preventive healthcare movement, both mental and physical, and you in our Society play a pivotal role.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 41, Athletic Debuts

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

So ... perhaps it is a sign of maturity that I can publicly admit that I turned 49 last week.  I can't believe it.  To some, that is young; to many more (including me), that is old.  When my children were small, one of them told Grandma "YOU'RE OLD!".  Her response was classic:  "And if you're lucky, someday you will be too."

The point of this post is not a pity party, but rather to point out that as a 49-year-old who will be 50 in 2014, I can officially partake of the Virginia Senior Games.  Working on behalf of the Games from the VRPS Central Office for the past couple of years has taught me that there are lots (LOTS) of athletes who lose partners, change partners, ditch partners, and bow out altogether of partner and team events in the weeks leading up to the Games.  I joked that when I am "of age", I want to partner up with all these lost "couples" and roster-deficient teams and have a "ball", so to speak.  No one would really have any expectations of me, and with all the pressure off, there would be no limit of fun, right?  In some cases, I think just having a pulse would qualify me.

So, if anybody is looking for a really (REALLY) bad (or shall we say "inexperienced") table tennis, bowling, Pickleball, basketball, tennis, or volleyball player, I'M YOUR WOMAN.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 40, Spinning Wheels

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office
Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.
~H.G. Wells
Most college campuses are full of bicycles, and what's more, they're full of cyclists.  Clearly, cycling is better for personal health, our shared environment, and the student's wallet, and it often saves riders time from commuting and parking.  As a result and in support of their communities, administrations are implementing free DIY bicycle repair stations - Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Radford University - to name a few.
Do-It-Yourself Bicycle Repair Station on campus at Virginia Tech

But why limit the benefits of cycling to the students?  Not only that, why limit it to bicycle repair?  Communities throughout the world, and Virginia, are funding bicycle sharing programs - what's happening in your's?