Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth, and Community Services Leads with Empower

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s Party!” – Robin Williams

The spring season is a sign of renewal and rejuvenation; and what better way to rejuvenate your spirit than adventure! Outdoor adventures take us back to the basic concept of enjoying, and reconnecting with, nature through play and recreation. Whether you are seeking “solo-time” to decompress and break free from the stressors of work, school, or life, or you desire to reconnect with friends and family through adventure play, there are plenty of recreation opportunities available in your communities!

We go “right to the source” in this edition of the Lead with Empower Blog by connecting with Amry Shelby, the Recreation Supervisor at the City of Bristol, CT Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth, and Community Services. Visit the Bristol Parks & Recreation website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about their recreation offerings for adults, youths and families, and athletes

The past 12 months have been full of many challenges for many different people. Describe how the pandemic has impacted your ability to provide recreation and leisure services to those to the Bristol Community Members.

The pandemic has certainly been a challenge for departments like ours throughout the world. Right away, the Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth, and Community Services (BPRYCS) team knew that we would have to be at the forefront of the pandemic in displaying the essential services we provide. In a year where traditional programming was extremely challenging and limited, our department pivoted to offering virtual programs as well as specialty childcare programs to reflect remote learning schedules and food distribution services. Our priority was always to do whatever we could to assist our community.

How did your the BPRYCS Team “adjust and adapt” to the challenges in providing recreation services to your community last year? What were some of the new/creative opportunities you offered? How were they received by your community members?

Fortunately, the BPRYCS department was able to continue to operate amidst the pandemic. We moved the majority of our programs outside in order to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our participants. We are fortunate to have a robust park system that could accommodate the many programs our department offers. 

We were also able to offer numerous new programs, some of which were virtual. One of the most popular programs that we created during the pandemic was Bristol All-Heart Park Packs. The Park Packs offer a variety of items and equipment so our community members can recreate safely in the comfort of their own homes. The Park Packs were free to Bristol residents and our department even delivered each Park Pack to the residents’ homes to reduce any barrier that might prohibit accessibility. The Bristol All-Heart Park Pack program was recently featured by the National Recreation and Parks Association!

What are some of the recreation offerings you have planned for your community members in 2021. Share some examples for Adults, Youths and Families, and Athletes.

Our goal is to transition back to most of our traditional recreation offerings while continuing to offer the new and innovative programs that we offered in 2020. We want to provide a sense of normalcy and comfort to our community members this year. We will be offering our summer camps this year and they will include field trips and others forms of recreation entertainment, which is the highlight of our summer season. Other programs that will be offered include Slow Pitch Softball Leagues, Yoga Classes, Volleyball Leagues, Tennis Lessons, Dog Obedience Classes, and Pickleball for Adults, Art Instruction, Basketball Classes, Flag Football, Summer Camps, and Horsemanship Lessons for Youths and Families, and a variety of sport programs for athletes of all skill levels!

How do your recreation services impact your community members? What are you most excited about in 2021?

Our department’s services and offerings are essential for the betterment of the lives of the Bristol community. Participation in the BPRYCS programs provide many benefits for our community members; including health and wellness benefits, environmental benefits, social skill development, and an increase in economic value with the community. It is the goal of the BPRYCS team to deliver high-quality services and facilities that enhance the quality of life in Bristol, meet the diverse needs of all citizens, and build a more sustainable future!

Visit the Bristol Parks & Recreation website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about their recreation offerings for adults, youths and families, and athletes.

Discover your Sense of Adventure with Empower Leadership

This blog is the first of a 3-part series to highlight local parks and recreation departments and their recreational offerings for adults, youths and families, and athletes. Stay tuned for our next showcases with New Britain Parks and Recreation and Rocky Hill Parks and Recreation!

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