Let’s Talk Inclusion with Director Melissa Battite

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"I was very comfortable, I was very challenged, I loved who I worked with… but I thought, if I don’t take this opportunity to just try, I’ll never know."

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.

Resources/Links Mentioned:

"This is one of the things I love about this industry. Everyday is different. We have the built in flexibility to continue to reinvent ourselves no matter what position we are in."

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Copyright © 2019  |   Becky Talks Parks

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