Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in again! This week I had the opportunity to talk with Melissa Battite (CPRP!), who is the Director at Lexington Recreation and Community Programs in Lexington, Massachusetts. Melissa and I actually met at the NRPA conference in Las Vegas in 2015. We were paired through a networking/mentorship event, and we had a great conversation! When I started this podcast, I knew I would want to circle back and talk to Melissa and ask where she is today.
Melissa didn’t know she was pursuing a career in parks and recreation when she spent her summers as a “Playground Supervisor.” During her first year of college, Melissa took an “Introduction to Recreation” class that sparked her interest in the parks and recreation field. Later in college, she took a tourism class, and finally decided to pursue Parks and Rec as a career after talking with her counselor, Ellen O’Sullivan, Ph.D. After graduation, Ellen referred her to a 1-year term position in Brookline (near Boston, MA), where she ended up staying for over 20 years
- Fun fact for you! Brookline, MA, has an interesting history; it is home to the first indoor swimming pool in America (built in 1883!) and the oldest playground in America (built in 1871!).
- Over the course of 23 years, Melissa worked her way up from Front Line Recreation Leader, Recreation Supervisor I, Recreation Supervisor II, and finally as a Assistant Recreation Director. During her time at Brookline, she saw a need for a Therapeutic Recreation Program, so she worked to create one. Listen to her tips for starting your own recreation therapy program in the podcast.
- Just a few years ago, a Director position came open in Lexington, MA. She wasn’t sure she wanted to leave the town of Brookline.
- She recently moved to Lexington, MA, where she is now a Director of Recreation & Community Programs. As a director, her roles range from administration, to staff development, to goal setting and so much more. She also makes it a priority to visit local parks and facilities to maintain relationships and show her presence in the community.
Melissa raises the bar by:
- Considering transportation and affordability as critical factors when defining inclusion
- Maintaining an active presence in the community and in her organization by visiting parks and facilities
- Learning (and sharing!) from online resources through active membership of NRPA networks
- Believing that raising the bar for yourself is actually the key to raising the bar in your organization
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Tips for starting a Therapeutic Recreation Program
- How parks and recreation agencies can partner with mental health organizations, school districts, and local services to achieve incredible goals
- How justifying the need for parks and recreation is actually an opportunity not a burden.