On October 6, 2017, I will be speaking at the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association annual conference. This story highlights the work of one of their members.
Around the world, local parks and recreation leaders serve without much notoriety or attention. You will immediately recognize the value parks bring to your community the moment you think of your city, town or neighborhood without them.
Beyond the parks, the activities within them provide a lifeline to underserved and at-risk community members. The hydro therapy pool in the Town of Parker in suburban Denver is an example of a community resource that is making a difference there without making much of a splash.
Deni Parker, 25, runs the therapy pool programs. The classes–and for now she teaches them all herself–serve only up to a handful at a time. Many of the sessions are one-on-one. A six-week course meeting twice per week costs just $30–about the cost of one session of physical therapy. In other words, the Parker therapy program costs just about one-twelfth as much.
Watch my full interview with Deni in the video player at the top of this article.
Deni, who played basketball in college, loves her job and the people she serves. She offers classes for seniors and others suffering from arthritis, providing a low impact, low-weight, low-pain opportunity for them to move and get exercise. She also has classes for cancer survivors and people recovering from injuries and surgeries, including people with hip replacements. The therapy pool provides a safe place for them to get exercise.
The students love the classes, often arriving early, lingering to go for lunch with classmates and then returning to visit on days when there is no class. The therapy programs have served over 3,000 people.
Her programs are not entirely self-funding. They rely on surpluses from the more popular youth athletic programs. Overall, the programs at Parker Parks and Recreation Department achieve a 100 percent recovery. The recreation facilities recover between 80-90 percent of their operating costs, she says proudly. “Parker’s recovery rate far outpaces the national average,” she adds.
“Our primary focus remains on services, not finances,” Deni says. This approach attracts patrons from people outside of Parker, increasing revenue and allowing the Town to expand programs and better serve Parker residents.
More about Town of Parker’s Parks and Recreation Department:
The Town’s Parks and Recreation Department was created shortly after the Town was incorporated and its citizens approved a one-half percent sales and use tax in 1990. This fund, which has grown as the Town has grown, provides funding for the construction, maintenance and operation of various park and recreation facilities and amenities. With the guidance of our Town Council and the support of our citizens, Parker’s Parks and Recreation Department has become one of the premier providers for park and recreation services in the state and winner of two Gold Medal awards (2000 and 2011) from the National Recreation and Parks Association. The mission for the Parker Parks and Recreation Department is “To provide quality parks and recreation facilities and services to meet the needs of our community by utilizing the resources of our team, and fostering an environment that encourages support, creativity, and integrity.”
I am the daughter of Shawn and Kathy Jacobs, originally from a small town in Kansas where I grew up on a farm/ranch. After attending Garden City Community College for two years, I was recruited for a full scholarship to play basketball at Metropolitan State University in Denver Colorado. There I was awarded first team Academic All-District in recognition of outstanding accomplishments on the court and in the classroom. I was fortunate to be the first women’s basketball player in Metro State’s history to earn that honor. During my time at Metro I discovered Therapeutic Recreation (TR) and it aligned perfectly with my passion for helping others. After graduating with a Bachelors of Arts with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation and passing the certification test, I was offered the Therapeutic/Senior Programs Coordinator position with the Town of Parker in December 2015. During my time with the Town of Parker I have added several new programs within TR including an Aquatic Therapy Program, Unified Kickball League, Buddy Bike Ride Program, a Bowling League and more. I have also been instrumental in the creation of new programs in the areas of chronic conditions. I am a very dedicated young professional whose main goal is to help the community thrive and provide outreach to underserved populations.
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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!