Perinton, RAA partnering to study inclusion practices in parks

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The town of Perinton and its Recreation and Parks Department are working with Rochester Accessible Adventures to study inclusion practices in parks and the Perinton Community Center, as well as camps and classes operated by the town.  

RAA will meet the core group of staff in September to start training on how to fine tune what the department does in order to be more inclusive.  

“This is a great opportunity for us to make sure everyone feels comfortable in all of our wonderful programs and facilities,” Supervisor Ciaran Hanna said. “I think our staff does an amazing job with everything we do, but the only way you improve is to take a step back every now and then and evaluate how you do things.”  

RAA has worked with dozens of companies since 2015, including the recreation departments in Irondequoit and Victor.  

“Strong, vibrant communities are possible when we ensure people with and without disabilities have equitable access to the health and wellness benefits of parks and recreation services,” said Anita O’Brien, RAA executive director and a certified therapeutic recreation specialist. “We are thrilled that Perinton Recreation and Parks will build a culture of inclusion, which strategically removes barriers and increases inclusive participation throughout all of their programs and operations.”  

O’Brien added that RAA is not a group that just looks for physical issues with facilities. Instead, the organization strives to form an inclusive culture in the workplace.  

“Inclusion is a process,” she said. “It is not something where we tell staff what to do and the next day, they are inclusive. It takes time.”  

RAA will work with everyone from greeters to park facility employees on how to think inclusive and help form an environment everyone can enjoy. RAA does not just study ways to improve conditions for individuals with disabilities, but for everyone from young children to seniors.  

“We are excited to begin this endeavor with Rochester Accessible Adventures,” Recreation director Jeff Nutting said. “We strongly believe that everyone has the right to recreate and enjoy their time in nature. This initiative will further enhance the experience for our community members.”