South Bend Parks Win Pair of Statewide Awards

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South Bend’s Parks and Recreation Department took home two statewide awards at a conference of the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association. The “CityVoice for Parks” and “Senior Fit” initiatives received the Award of Excellence.

CityVoice was developed to provide community feedback through a call-in system. The Parks and Recreation Department used CityVoice to gather input during the development of the city’s five year parks master plan. The tool allowed citizens to complete a survey and hear other people’s suggestions for improvements. The master plan identified $25 million of needed improvements.

Code for America developed the CityVoice system. The national non-profit “build[s] open source technology and organize[s] a network of people dedicated to making government services simple, effective, and easy to use,” according to their website.

CityVoice has also been used for the city’s Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative.

The Senior Fit program provides free health and wellness services to seniors. The city says that over 9,000 seniors participated in weekly classes offered at O’Brien Recreation Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and the Pinhook Park pavilion last year. It is a partnership between the Parks and Recreation Department and the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.

“The city is committed to improving quality of life, and these awards reflect the efforts the Parks Department has made to maximize the input and participation of residents,” says Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “We’re also grateful to have strong community partners like Code for America and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center to support our programming.”

The awards came from the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association, which represents over 900 parks and recreation professionals throughout the state. The awards are given based on the evaluation of peers in the profession. Members include professional staff, elected leaders and citizen advocates.

Image Credit: Kara Newhouse, flickr

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