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James City County Parks & Recreation earned seven top honors, bestowed by the Virginia Recreation & Park Society during its 70th Annual Conference held in September in James City County. Over 500 delegates, exhibitors, speakers and volunteers from around the commonwealth gathered for the conference, which is a learning exchange and provides an opportunity for recreation and park professionals to discuss areas of common interest. Highlighting each year’s conference is a formal presentation of awards, honoring individuals, departments and organizations throughout Virginia who have demonstrated excellence during the previous year. Judged by a jury of its peers, the Society presented James City County with awards in the population category of 50,001-100,000 in the following categories: Best Health and Wellness InitiativeFamily Fitness Zumba Series - the series successfully engaged community in inclusive and accessible physical activity through the use of diverse instructors, captivating class themes and health education integration. Best New DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Initiative Communication Stations - in partnership with the Williamsburg-James City Public Schools, Parks & Recreation collaborated in the design and installation of five Communication Station boards in County parks and playgrounds to promote inclusion and equity among park users. The boards display dozens of images, including each park’s unique features, play equipment, a variety of facial expressions as well as the full American Sign Language alphabet. Best New Special Event Disability Awareness Trick or Treat - the free event was created to serve those with disabilities and their families by providing community information combined with a sensory friendly trick or treating experience. Most Creative Marketing StrategyConnections & Reflections - July is Park and Recreation month and staff promoted its benefits in a unique electronic campaign featuring eye-catching photography, staff testimonials and park highlights designed to enhance public awareness and gained new “followers.” Snapshot MomentElf in the Snow - as part of the County’s annual and long-standing program, the 2022 Breakfast with Santa event featured the addition of three elves - one was professionally trained to work with participants with disabilities, another was bilingual, and one worked specifically with young children. Collectively, these new features were captured in a photo which successfully enhanced family engagement and heightened the spirit of magic of the holidays! Distinguished Private Sector Service AwardTriangle Skateboard Alliance - since 2018, the Triangle Skateboard Alliance (TSA) has offered a unique programming service to the greater Williamsburg area through the advocacy of skateboarding. In addition to supporting the construction and improvements of local skate parks, the group prides itself on a culture of service by offering programming and completing community projects. Fellows AwardJohn. H. Carnifax Jr., Director of James City County Parks & Recreation This premiere award, awarded to one recipient annually, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated consistent and outstanding commitment to the profession and to serving the community. Throughout John’s more than 40 years in the Parks & Recreation profession, he continues to be recognized as an outstanding leader, role model, mentor and friend both locally and across the commonwealth. Topping his list of accomplishments include leading the department to national accreditation and reaccreditation and steering the course in the receipt of Parks & Recreation’s 2012 Gold Medal Award, bestowed by the National Park and Recreation Association who recognize the “best of the best” in the recreation industry.
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