JCPRD and some of its staff members recently brought home some new awards and honors we’d love to tell you about!
The honors include two Outstanding New or Innovative Program awards from different branches of the Kansas Recreation & Park Association, a KRPA Presidential Citation for Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses Bill Maasen, and a 2021 Leadership in Action award from Johnson County government for Children’s Services Department Administrative Assistant Jennifer Barnes.
All three of the KRPA awards were presented during the organization’s annual conference and trade show which took place Jan. 19 through 21 in Manhattan, Kan.
The Johnson County Museum received an award for a New or Innovative Recreation Program for Sensory Friendly Mondays, which was first introduced in June 2021. The goal of the program is to encourage visitors with sensory processing challenges.
The Johnson County Museum strives to welcome all members of the community, and recently started this program to encourage visitors who may not regularly visit. Museum Educator Jessica K. Smith Doyle advocated for the museum to begin having Sensory Friendly Mondays. She did research on what other museums in the area were doing as well as created social narratives, visual checklists, sensory maps, and signage for the program.
Curator of Education Leah Palmer reached out to the Britain Development Center, a program of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, to perform an audit of museum spaces. “They were so appreciative of the work we had done, and ultimately decided to sponsor our program including financial support and staff during the program,” said Palmer.
One participant’s mom said “George does have some sensory needs. He gets really easily overwhelmed and overstimulated, especially in loud, busy environments. I was excited for the opportunity to bring him here and play without quite as much commotion as would normally be. I brought my daughter to the museum when she was younger and am thrilled to have a place where both children can play together outside of the home. Just to be able to bring George here and have that same experience has been great.”
Kansas City Corporate Challenge, a JCPRD program, took home a New or Innovative Sports Program award for its new mini Fall Series, which first took place in September and is expected to become an annual event.
Because the 2020 KCCC games were cancelled because of COVID-19, the KCCC team wanted to offer something to keep companies engaged and offer a bright side during a dark time while meeting its goal of promoting employee fitness and recreation within the Kansas City business community. So, in September 2021, the mini Fall Series was offered with six events as opposed to 30 in the usual April through June games. The three-week event drew just 26 companies versus the usual 200+. The event offered three new events which had never been offered in the regular KCCC games: sand volleyball, adventure race, and corn hole.
“KC loves their sports, and we were so happy that we were able to bring the fun back to our folks when things started opening back up,” JCPRD Corporate and Wellness Coordinator Alison Smith said in her nomination. “We have participants who look forward to the KCCC games every year and will spend a full year training, practicing, and preparing for the games. When we had to cancel the season because of the pandemic, the Fall Series gave them hope and a reason to keep moving, training, and preparing.”
Superintendent of parks and golf courses Maasen received the KRPA President’s Citation from KRPA President Rhonda Pollard, who is also JCPRD’s superintendent of recreation. In her citation, Pollard recognized Maasen for his support, his extensive knowledge, and his strong commitment to the field of parks and recreation.
“More importantly than giving me support, he’s been instrumental in supporting the Johnson County community by forging trusting relationships between cities and land owners to bring over 140 miles of tails and countless acres of land acquisition into our system. His dedication of over 35 years to our profession and serving his community is commendable.”
Maasen was also the 2020 recipient of KRPA’s Distinguished Fellow Award.
Jennifer Barnes’ Leadership in Action award was announced during JCPRD’s virtual annual employee meeting on Feb. 21.
As an administrative assistant for JCPRD’s Children’s Services Department, Barnes provides staff support for 32 school sites throughout the Shawnee Mission and DeSoto School Districts. Although securing grants is not in her job description, she asked her supervisor a few years ago if she could learn more about the process and has since taken on this responsibility for her department. In 2021, she submitted 82 to 88 individual site applications for each of three Childcare Aware/Kansas Department of Health and Environment grants (for a grand total of 258 applications) and JCPRD was awarded all of them, for a total of $8.7 million in grant assistance.
The grants received included impact grants intended for the purchase of specifically-approved materials and supplies, technology and equipment that aid in the mitigation of COVID-19 and help to provide quality programs for community families, and two rounds of sustainability grants intended to give licensed childcare providers the assistance needed, through January 2022, to provide the best quality care for the children in their programs.
Once awarded, Barnes has been responsible for working with staff at each of these sites to ensure funds are spent appropriately and that each and every expense is individually tracked, documented, and entered into the grant provider’s system monthly. She has also worked closely with the JCPRD finance department to account for every penny received.
“As the JCPRD Enterprise Fund continues to maneuver through COVID challenges, these grant dollars will be critical to our financial success in 2022,” Pollard stated in her nomination of Barnes.