October 12, 2023

Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Wins 2023 National Gold Medal Award in Parks and Recreation Management

Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation (VBPR) was named the 2023 National Gold Medal Award winner for excellence in Parks and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), at the NRPA Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas. VBPR won Gold in the Class I category, the largest category, for cities with populations over 400,000.

"We are honored to receive this distinguished award as a reflection of what we do at VBPR through our unwavering commitment to our mission: to exceed community expectations in an inclusive, innovative and sustainable manner,” said VBPR Director Michael Kirschman. “This recognition belongs to every member of our extraordinary staff whose hard work and dedication have propelled us to this amazing achievement, as well as our elected officials and city management for their unwavering support over the years. Only through support such as this can any agency attain Gold Medal status.”

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members, and elected officials. Judges praised VBPR for an array of unique initiatives including:

  • Woodstock Park Skate Park: VBPR partnered with Hampton Roads Sanitation District and gathered community input to install a new 30,000 square-foot state-of-the-art skate park atop a federally required 5.2 million-gallon underground wet weather storage tank. This wastewater infrastructure project included other upgrades such as new restrooms, parking, playgrounds and shelters.
  • Parks After Dark: In collaboration with the Mayors Youth Violence Prevention Task Force, the Police Department, Virginia Beach City Public Schools and community organizations, VBPR launched a free, family-friendly summer events series with live music, outdoor movies, lawn games, video game tournaments and local food trucks.
  • Bow Creek Stormwater Park: VBPR is a key partner in a $68 million “Stormwater Park” project to ease recurrent flooding in a vulnerable area that’s home to nearly 4,000 residents. This 100-acre, City-owned golf course will be converted into a resilient park designed to contain storm water during major floods. The park will offer multi-use trails, sports courts, a kayak launch and scenic areas.

The work we do at VBPR impacts every resident and visitor who comes to our city,” added Kirschman. “In addition to running seven state-of-the-art recreational centers for members, our staff manages nearly 300 parks, more than 7,000 acres of land, a marina, an athletic complex and provides landscape management at city buildings, schools, roadways and the oceanfront resort.”

Founded in 1965, the National Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long‐range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces.

View the VBPR Gold Medal Finalist 2023 video. For more information on the National Gold Medal Award Program, visit www.aapra.org.

Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation
Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation strives to promote healthy lifestyles and protect the City's coastal environment, as well as to ensure all residents – regardless of their physical, social and economic circumstances – can access Parks & Recreation programs. The department's vision is to be the national leader in providing enriching and memorable lifelong experiences. Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA, the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association.

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration
The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a nonprofit organization founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit www.aapra.org.

The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not‐for‐profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public spaces. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

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