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Tori Simpson 

Mar 19


The original item was published from March 19, 2021 12:46 PM to April 30, 2021 10:03 AM

I’ve been in the public recreation industry a loooooong time.  I got my first paycheck in it while Reagan was P.O.T.U.S.  Lots of people think all we do is play with kids, like they’re little toys that exist for our entertainment.  It’s an easy misconception; kids are cute (usually) and their laughter is priceless. But what really brings me the most satisfaction in my work is the friendships built through our programs regardless of age.  It’s in these relationships that I see the value of our work really hitting home.

Parks and recreation facilities are the tools through which cities build community.  Public spaces bring people together.  Whether it’s a ball field, a playground, a beach, a pool, a trail, a golf course, an ice rink, or a gymnasium… we provide settings where people come together and make memories.  During this last year of COVID it has never been more obvious how badly we all need and value our public spaces, especially the outdoor ones.

The day in March 2020 that it was announced that schools, businesses and our District would close until the risk of COVID was understood, many of my colleagues and I anticipated the harmful impacts on physical and mental health that isolation and a lack of activity would have, the impacts since written about in the newspapers and medical journals.  While we were closed, we at TDRPD were driven to figure out how we could #MountainForward and open whatever facility or program possible.  We had to figure out how to get people playing sports, swimming, hiking, walking, sunbathing, and boating as best as possible in our town, preferably with other people even if they had to wear a mask and keep their distance.  We had to reopen what we could.
We worked hard, and I can proudly say that we have opened all that we could to the benefit of this community.  We had a banner year at West End Beach even though space was limited to about 33% of its usual capacity.  We had a banner year at Ponderosa Golf Course and in our summer camps too.  This winter the Truckee Ice Rink just closed with a record year as well.  Even this school year our preschool and school-age programs have been full and helping families and students navigate the distance-learning and hybrid-learning school schedules.  

…By the way, our preschool, school-age programs and summer camps have gone nearly a year (since May ’20) without a single known transmitted case of COVID.  We’re proud of that.  Hope I didn’t just jinx us…

What is great to see is how many people did get outside to socialize and be active in any way they could, and they chose facilities and programs we provide and lead.  Last summer I certainly saw tons of people were in our picnic areas and playgrounds, and they were happy and grateful to be out together in their respective communities.  Their smiles and laughter always tell me that we are doing something right by providing the places that people want to gather in.  Activity, laughter, socialization, relationship, the sun – all are essential elements to beating disease and living a life of wellness.  These people found this and beat COVID in our parks, programs, and facilities. 

We’re going to do even more together this summer.