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Metro Parks scores major statewide awards and offices during Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association’s 67th Annual Conference


NASHVILLE, TENN (October 17, 2018) – Metro’s Parks and Recreation Department won three statewide honors and two Board seats during the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association’s (TRPA) 67th annual conference held recently in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Awards like this exemplify why we are considered one of the best park systems in the country,” said Metro Parks Director Monique Odom. “I am so very proud of the continued innovation, collaboration, creativity, and solid teamwork our employees display year after year. This city is fortunate to have dedicated and motivated Park and Recreation employees”

TRPA’s Four Star Award for Best Renovated Facility went to Fannie Mae Dees “Dragon” Park Restoration Project. The iconic mosaic dragon had been fenced off and closed for much-needed repairs since May 2016. After two years of renovations, the city’s legendary and much-loved dragon reopened to the community this summer primarily because of a collaborative partnership between Metro Parks, the Hillsboro West End Neighborhood, people living in the immediate neighborhood and volunteers. The Save Our Dragon Campaign generated enough funds to restore the colorful creature for children to climb and play on once again. The dragon was commissioned by Metro Parks, was dedicated in 1981 following the work of hundreds of volunteers laying mosaics under the direction of the renowned national artist, Pedro Silva

Metro Parks’ CRAFT Basketball and Enrichment Program received the TRPAs Four Star Award for Best Innovative Program. More than 600 high school students and 16 community centers across the county participated in this innovative city-wide program that offered teens training on gang resistance, youth violence education, illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco prevention, personal responsibility, financial literacy and career development . CRAFT, is built on five principles - Critical thinking (to engage in reflective and independent thinking), Resilience (the mental toughness to overcome obstacles), Awareness (awareness to both positive and negative influences), Fundamentals (basic fundamentals for success both on and off the court) and Teamwork (learning to work with others to obtain a common goal). The program, led by Metro Parks in collaboration with Metro Public Schools and the Metro Police Department, was stemmed from the 2016 Youth Violence Summit.

TRPA’s 2018 Robert Horsley Award was presented to Metro Parks’ Lindsey Magness for the most outstanding recreation program by community center personnel in the state. Under her leadership, three major programs for seniors have garnered accolades from all segments of the community. The department’s annual Valentine Ball, Senior Picnic and Senior Games have become major social events for those 50 years of age and older. The Valentine Ball sells out quickly and attracts a long list of well-known Nashville personalities. The Senior Games is a weekly competition among community seniors that prepares the winners to compete in the annual Tennessee Senior Olympics. The Senior Picnic has become a vehicle to bring seniors together for food and fellowship. Over the last twelve months the department has served over 132,000 seniors.

Bob Benson, Business Services Coordinator for Metro Parks, was sworn in as President-Elect of TRPA. Bob, who is Host Chair for the upcoming 2021 National Recreation and Parks Association Congress that will be held in Nashville said, “My goals are to support our current president, Simon Bradbury, in his efforts to help elevate and advance the number of certified parks and recreation professionals in Tennessee, and I’m very interested in expanding the outreach of TRPA’s educational foundation to its membership. We have so many dedicated parks and recreation departments across the state, and I look forward to reaching out to each of them over the next year to learn how the TRPA can better serve the all.” Bob currently holds a CPRP certification and this year completed his second year as secretary/treasurer for TRPA.

Nethraja Rajaratnam, Office Support Specialist in the Special Services Division of Metro Parks, was sworn-in as Secretary/Treasurer of TRPA. Nethraja has a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Sciences from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. “I am proud to be part of a department that works together as a team to offer the best programs and activities that we can. We offer programs to all different age groups and ethnicities and the programs we offer have a huge impact on peoples’ health and quality of life. I look forward to serving as Secretary/Treasurer of TRPA and hope that I can help tell the story of how important Parks are throughout Tennessee.”

TRPA is a non-profit professional society of approximately 800 individual and agency members (professionals and citizens) organized in 1952 as the leader in supporting highly effective professionals to achieve healthy, livable communities. TRPA exists to strengthen and unite those committed to the benefits of parks and recreation.

Metro Parks offers a variety of facilities and programs throughout Davidson County. Currently, Metro Parks oversees 15,114 acres of open space, including 184 parks and 85 miles of greenway. It is the department’s mission to sustainably and equitably provide everyone in Nashville with an inviting network of parks and greenways that offer health, wellness and quality of life through recreation, conservation and community.