Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation honored for inclusion

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By Renee Larr

From left, CCPR Director Mark Westermeier, Business Services Director Audrey Kostrzewa and Chief Operating Officer Michael Klitzing accept an award from a representative from NRPA. (Submitted photo)

From left, CCPR Director Mark Westermeier, Business Services Director Audrey Kostrzewa and Chief Operating Officer Michael Klitzing accept an award from a representative from NRPA. (Submitted photo)

The Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation has been honored for its efforts to include all members of the community in its programs and staffing. It recently received the Excellence in Inclusion Award from the National Recreation and Park Association during its annual conference in St. Louis.

“They are open to receiving award applications for what they call the best of the best ceremony,” said Lindsay Labas, CCPR marketing director. “One of the awards they had open this year was excellence in inclusion. Based on our inclusive efforts we do as a department, we wanted to apply for that award.”

Last year, CCPR offered 205 programs designed specifically for people with disabilities,  serving 2,275 participants.

“We have a couple of different ways that we work with inclusion. We employ staff with disabilities, so we have a quite a few folks who work our front desk line,” Labas said. “We also have programs that are specifically geared toward individuals with disabilities. Those are called our adaptive programs. That basically means those are programs that we have a higher staff-to-participant ratio, and we can help more one-on-one with those individuals.”

One such program is the award-winning Roundabout Playback Troupe. The group includes adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities as well as adults without disabilities. The rest of CCPR’s 3,200 recreation programs can be adapted to suit anyone’s needs.

“All of the other programs that we do offer are inclusive, which means we can adapt that program to an individual if they wanted to take any other program we offer,” Labas said.

CCPR offers leadership counseling on its best inclusion practices to other organizations.

For more, visit carmelclayparks.com.

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