Asheville Parks & Recreation has been the trusted steward of the city’s parks, community centers, playground, sports courts and fields, pools, and more for nearly 70 years. There’s no better way to celebrate Parks & Recreation Month than by highlighting the professionals who faithfully serve the community all year to build a strong, vibrant, and resilient community through high-quality recreation, leisure, and active living experiences – often behind the scenes.
Each week in July, a different division of the department will take the spotlight. Candy Hensley-Shaw and Wayne Simmons answer questions about recreation management this week. Candy is the Program and Operations Manager for Community and Recreation (as well as the interim Focus Area Manager for Recreation) and Wayne is the Program and Operations Manager for Recreation and Athletics.
What does the recreation division do and how does it fit into the overall success of Asheville Parks & Recreation?
The recreation management division is what we like to call the frontline crusaders who provide essential services to the community including athletics and sports, special events, youth programs, adult and senior programs, after-school programs, summer camps, outdoor programs, and therapeutic recreation. We are a team of over 46 professionals and are essentially the most visible part of the department with daily interactions with community members.
What are some accomplishments made possible over the past year with your division serving in the lead role or providing significant support?
Recreation management added a new after school program at Claxton Elementary and the OAKS Therapeutic Recreation program at Murphy-Oakley Community Center. Also added to our facilities are two newly renovated fitness centers at Linwood Crump Shiloh and Stephens-Lee community centers, both of which are free to use. Hours of operation were extended until 10 p.m. most days during the week at the community centers with gymnasiums to provide additional programming and community access.
Are there any responsibilities your division oversees that might surprise community members?
Asheville Parks & Recreation is known as the best kept secret. Sure, some know we provide after-school programs, summer camps, and youth and adult sports, but did you know that we also provide toddler programs, outdoor recreation, an indoor rock climbing wall, therapeutic recreation, senior programs, meal sites, the Rec n Roll mobile activity van, and special events like Movies in the Park, Truck City AVL, Asheville-Buncombe Senior Games, Tiny Tykes Triathlon, and more!
Are there stories that might help people have a better understanding of what recreation management does?
Many folks see what we do as just fun and play, not knowing all the planning behind the events or programs they attend. Many of our staff are Certified Parks and Recreation Professionals (CPRP), which is a great way to show your dedication and expertise. We love what we do and it takes a lot of work to plan, organize, and implement the services we provide. Our team also prides itself on being able to adapt quickly to meet the needs of our community. This has never been more evident as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic or when inclement weather impacts school operations.
Anything else you’d like to include?
One might say the success of our programs can be measured by the people who have attended them. Many of our summer camp kids have grown up through our programs and become employees as the next generation of counselors. Some have even moved into full time positions making it a career choice. And that is owed to our outstanding staff who have provided an awesome experience!