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Practicing inclusiveness in real life; Park Board Notes February 2017

February 16, 2017

Welcome one, welcome all. If you are here in our community, then Metro Parks welcomes you to participate in all the district has to offer. Inclusiveness is not only one of the district’s eight core values, it’s also part of the social equity pillar honored by Metro Parks and the National Recreation and Park Association.

NRPA calls social equity “ensuring all people have access to the benefits of local parks and recreation.” Metro Parks takes many approaches to further social equity.

  • We offer programming throughout the park district.
  • We manage specialized and adaptive recreation programs for people with special needs.
  • We offer scholarships – and recently increased the fund for scholarships – to ensure people with lower incomes can participate in fee-supported programs.
  • We are partnering with Tacoma Public Schools, the YMCA, and the Boys & Girls Clubs to provide an elementary school sports program that gives young children throughout the city access to recreational sports at their neighborhood school.
  • The pillar of social equity even shows up in the placement of spraygrounds and pools throughout the district so that more residents have access to them.

I can tell these actions have a positive influence when I visit Metro Parks facilities and hear different languages and see people from different cultures. But sometimes an organization's values are also expressed by what it does not do.

We do not track our participants’ citizenship status. We do not track their country of origin. We certainly do not question anyone’s religion. We may ask whether you are a district resident, but how you came to be living in the park district is not our concern. We are a safe place of sanctuary.

Like equity and inclusiveness, safety is one our district’s eight core values. The access our park district provides to residents contributes to community safety, according to the National Recreation and Park Association. The association says parks provide more physical activity for youth and adults, for example. So when you see people out using parks, spraygrounds and community centers, you’re seeing some of our contributions to safe neighborhoods.

We agree with NRPA when it says “it is a right, not just a privilege, for people nationwide to have safe, healthful access to parks and recreation.” Metro Parks staff are trained to provide positive, fun, engaging experiences for people.

For all people.

Aaron Pointer became a Park Board commissioner in 2001 after careers as a professional baseball player, NFL and Pac-10 referee, and Pierce County Parks Athletics Supervisor. His fellow commissioners elected him as Board Clerk on Jan. 9, 2017.