Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Wins Awards for Outstanding New Programs and Innovative Marketing

Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Wins Awards for Outstanding New Programs and Innovative Marketing
November 2, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation (VBPR) continues to be a leader in the parks and recreation field, and was recognized with three prestigious awards from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS) at the VRPS Awards Banquet held in Harrisonburg, VA last month. The 2021 awards highlighted innovative ways the department kept the community engaged during the time when COVID-19 restrictions limited in-person gatherings.

  • Best New Program (population over 200,000):Virtual Program Collaboration between Virginia Beach and New Jersey Therapeutic Recreation (TR)

Trying to remain innovative and keep participants engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic, VBPR Therapeutic Recreation Programs and Inclusion Services Unit began exchanging information and sharing strategies with other TR programmers across the country. This outreach led to a partnership with Somerset, New Jersey Parks Commission Therapeutic Recreation Programs Unit to offer three virtual collaborative events during summer 2020. The programs included a virtual African safari tour, a Zumba fitness experience, and an instructional drawing session. These virtual meetups allowed participants to socialize during a time when many were experiencing severe impacts to their mental health due to isolation and fear. It also gave them new outlets to share with each other and bond as a group.

  • Most Innovation Marketing Piece (population over 200,000):Hidden Treasures Video Series

When COVID-19 caused the cancellation of all events and programs, VBPR's marketing team collaborated with the Park Events, Programs and Special Use (PEPSU) staff to create a way to engage with the community online. A series of "Hidden Treasure" nature videos were produced to introduce residents to many of the city's "hidden" park features. The series of more than 20 videos explored a range of topics from kayak access points to native wildlife and accessible trails. The YouTube and Facebook videos have generated over 40,000 views and continue to provide relevant information to city residents.

  • Most Innovative Marketing Strategy (population over 200,000):Virtual Earth Day2020

VBPR reimagined the 50th anniversary Earth Day celebration and shifted the outdoor and in-person plans to the virtual world while sustaining the goals of awareness and engagement to reinforce the community's environmental commitment. Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation (VBPR) took a multi- media marketing approach to promote online activities and interactive programs for the week-long celebration. Promotions were housed on the website, VBGov.com/EarthDay and distributed via email marketing, social media, print advertisement, and media outreach using VBPR's in-house marketing team.

The online festivities included interactive, family-friendly, and inclusive activities, virtual programs, videos, a photo contest, and trivia quiz to engage and educate residents to be environmental advocates. All marketing channels were activated to cross-promote the week-long celebration.

Over 400 delegates, exhibitors, speakers, and volunteers from around the state gathered for the annual conference, now in its 67th year. The conference is a learning exchange and provides an opportunity for recreation and park professionals to discuss areas of common interest.

About 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. For more information, visit VBgov.com/parks or call (757) 385-1100 (TTY: 757-711 Virginia Relay). Sign up for Parks & Rec email newsletters at VBgov.com/eNews. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/VBparksrec.

About Virginia Recreation and Park Society
The mission of VRPS is to unite all professionals, students, and interested laypersons engaged in the field of recreation, parks and other leisure services in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The members work together to promote and improve the profession in all its diversity.