Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has awarded the 2014 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management to the Chicago Park District. This year’s proud sponsor of the Gold Medal Awards program is Musco Lighting LLC.
“Chicago is already known as a City in a Garden, and this prestigious honor recognizes the significant investments we are making in our parks and open spaces to honor our past and create a safer, brighter and healthier future for every child in Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “It was a tremendous honor for the Chicago Park District to even be nominated for this prestigious national award, and we’re thrilled to not only be named the top park district in the country, but to be the first urban park district to receive this award. Over the past three years, we’ve been dramatically expanding Chicago’s park system, rehabbing 325 playgrounds and adding nearly 1,000 acres and more than $400 million in capital investment from public and private sources, and we’re on track to become the first city to ensure that every child in Chicago lives within a 10 minute walk to a park or playground.”
The Chicago Park District was one of four finalists in the Class I Category, having a population of 400,001 or more residents. Agencies were judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.
“Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, we have been able to secure this national honor for excellence in the field of park and recreation management,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael Kelly. “This is the first time such an honor has been bestowed upon the Chicago Park District, or any other urban park in the nation. It is wonderful to be recognized by our peers. The Mayor’s approach to fiscal management and strategic allocation of resources has allowed us to increase programming, increase registration and increase capital investments in our parks.”
Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation communities and the State Park System Class awarded on odd numbered years.
The Chicago Park District has been striving for this national recognition for the past few years, and Chicago’s park system embodies the core values of the NRPA including conservation, social equity, health and wellness. Its innovative, community driven programs like Summer Day Camp, Night Out in the Parks, Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! playground program, ground breakings and ribbon cuttings have lead the Chicago Park District to win the NRPA’s Gold Medal award. It is the mission of the Chicago Park District to enhance the quality of life in Chicago by being the leading provider of recreation and leisure opportunities; provide safe, inviting and beautifully maintained parks and facilities; and create a customer-focused and responsive park system that prioritizes the needs of children and families.
Agencies were judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.
The Chicago Park District is the steward of more than 8,100 acres of open space, totaling 580 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 10 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs.
The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a non-profit organization founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit www.aapra.org.
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 40,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.
Musco Lighting, LLC is a company that has specialized in lighting systems for sports and large areas for more than 30 years. Musco has pioneered dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and affordable ways to control wasted spill light and glare. Permanent and temporary lighting services range from neighborhood fields to NASCAR super speedways. For more information, visit www.musco.com.