Philadelphia Parks & Recreation aims to provide all residents high-quality recreation facilities and programs. We know that welcoming, inclusive neighborhood-based recreational opportunities benefit everyone.
But how do we best deliver that opportunity to residents of all abilities. How do we provide inclusive and adaptive programming at sites across the city?
To answer these questions, Parks & Rec needed a plan. First, we engaged Carousel Connections, a local expert on inclusion. From July 2020 to June 2021 we worked with community and professional partners. Together, we looked at how Parks & Rec could:
- Increase the quantity and quality of accessible programming.
- Ensure physical accessibility plans reflect users’ needs.
- Promote positive, inclusive relationships.
The result of this research is The Rec for All plan. The plan seeks to make our sites welcoming to individuals with disabilities and those who are neurodivergent. To do so, it provides a series of recommendations and resources for our staff.
The plan seeks to:
- Shift from a model of isolation to inclusion.
- Enhance capacity and connection across PPR’s system.
- Provide optimal service for all.
- Support programs and amenities for all, in all neighborhoods.
To help put the plan in place, Parks & Rec is excited to welcome Gwendolyn (Gwenn) Vilade as our first Director of Inclusion. Gwenn is a certified recreational therapist. She joins us from Inglis House where she served in several therapy and educator roles. Gwenn is also Past-President and PA Member-at-Large on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey / Eastern Pennsylvania Therapeutic Recreation Association.
Earlier in her career, she served as Activities Director at Camp Speers—home of Parks & Rec’s CampPhilly. Gwenn earned her Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from East Stroudsburg University. She also holds a Master of Science in Management Healthcare Administration from Wilmington University in Delaware.
Gwenn is excited to help Parks & Rec’s system and its programs be more inclusive for residents of all ages and abilities. She notes: “Philadelphia’s recreation centers have a strong, can-do culture that is built on care, respect, and community. Supporting these sites with modern inclusion practices will help all residents.”
Gwenn can be reached via email at email@example.com.