International recognition for GC parks department

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The Grove City Parks and Recreation Department received international recognition for their youth sports.

The department earned an honorable mention for Excellence in Youth Sports from the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS). The NAYS is a non-profit organization, in West Palm Beach, Fla., which aims to make sports and activities safe and positive by providing programs that add value to youth sports.

Each year, NAYS selects five organizations worldwide that will receive the Excellence in Youth Sports Award and several other organizations receive honorable mentions. Grove City Parks and Recreation was one of 10 groups to receive honorable mentions for 2007.

According to the NAYS, the Excellence in Youth Sports Award honors programs that are doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants, which include children, parents and coaches.

"This organization is committed to providing quality youth sports experiences," said Fred Engh, founder and president of NAYS.

Any organization that educates their administrators, volunteer coaches, game officials and parents can qualify for the award. They just have to apply. Kim Conrad, director for Grove City Parks and Recreation, said the department has applied for the award before but this was the first time they won.

"We are very proud," said Conrad. "This is quite an honor."

"The Grove City Parks and Recreation staff deserves to be applauded for the outstanding work they have done to embrace a child-centered recreational sports philosophy that is aimed at providing a positive and safe experience for all youth," said Engh. "Positive youth sports experiences help lay the foundation for productive and healthy lives, so the Grove City staff should be commended for their commitment to children and making a positive difference through sports in the community."

One of the reasons the parks and recreation department stood out was the mandatory background checks for all coaches. Conrad explained that the department has run background checks for the past eight or nine years but now they are on a new system.

"Now the coaches have to have an ID badge," said Conrad. "It’s just more in depth now."

According to city policy, volunteer coaches will not be considered from any person who has a conviction of any sexual crime at any time in the past or any conviction for drug and/or felony violence. The background check includes social security verification, address trace, local check, statewide misdemeanor, national check and felony criminal record check. It checks for a criminal record in 47 states and sex offender repositories in all 50 states.

"The policy was done through our legal department," said Conrad. "We look for misdemeanors or felonies and how long ago they were committed. Obviously any child-related crime would disqualify a person."

The NAYS also gave the honorable mention to the department for their local youth scholarship program for underprivileged youth in the community. Conrad explained that each year the department has money allotted for the scholarship program. The families that apply will have to meet some criteria.

"It doesn’t cover 100 percent of the cost but it helps," said Conrad.

The Grove City Parks and Recreation Department offers spring and fall youth baseball, volleyball and basketball. For more information about programming for all ages, call parks and recreation at 277-3050.

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