Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) announced its 2021 Annual Awards of Excellence winners on November 10 and Orange Community Education & Recreation was among a handful of departments taking home the prestigious award.
Out of more than 125 submissions, twelve different agencies won first place awards.
In the Historical & Cultural Arts Programs & Events category, the department earned first place for its innovative family reading project and community walk, Don’t Judge A Book by Its Cover. The inspirational project taught kindergarten through 5th grade children the beauty of diversity, the power of inclusion through books and facilitated discussion. Each child was encouraged to write their own inclusion storybook, which was featured on a yard sign during a community walk. The program was made possible through a grant from Orange Schools Foundation and partnership with Cuyahoga County Public Library - Orange Branch and Orange Schools.
The department also earned a second place award in the Adaptive Programs & Events category for the Broadway Buddies: Broadway Bound program. Created during the pandemic and held virtually at times, Broadway Bound provides opportunities for actors with disabilities to focus on music, dance and drama. Theatre professionals and paraprofessionals guide and inspire actors every step of the way in this popular theatre program.
“We are so honored to receive these awards and to be among such an elite group of parks and recreation departments,” Orange Community Education & Recreation Director Jill Korsok said. “I think it shows the dedication, creativity
and focus of our team on our mission to build and engage our community through the development and delivery of excellent learning, discovery, and active recreational experiences for all.”
The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on February 8, 2022 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio.
“Every year, we say that these award winners represent the best of the best in parks and recreation in Ohio,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “But this year, these award winners are particularly powerful. These projects, programs, and events were carried out through a pandemic and sought to make an impact in the lives of people as they struggled through these difficult times. More than anything, these award recipients demonstrate the significant impact that parks and recreation departments continue to make on people and on the communities they serve—even in the midst of a global pandemic.”
The awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.
Orange Community Education & Recreation serves those living in the Orange School district and beyond. The department offers hundreds of classes, activities and events for all ages in art, theatre, sports, recreation, health and wellness, learning discovery, and more.
Incorporated in 1963, OPRA is a non-profit, public interest organization representing over 2000 professionals and citizen board members striving to provide quality parks and recreation facilities and opportunities for all Ohioans while protecting and preserving Ohio's natural resources, positively impacting local economies and health and wellness of its citizens.