The City of Wenatchee Parks and Recreation Department's Special Needs Social Program has been selected to receive the 2014 Washington Recreation and Park Association Spotlight Award for Program Excellence in Cultural Competency. The award recognizes parks and recreation programs, initiatives or special events in Washington State that reach across cultural boundaries to educate, include, welcome or serve.The Special Needs Social program is designed to be a unique, integrating recreational opportunity for individuals with developmental delays to build relationships and participate in community events and activities without the barrier of cost. Its primary goal is to provide an opportunity for individuals with developmental delays to have meaningful social interactions with their peers. A secondary goal is to connect the individual’s whole family to other families in similar life situations so that they can form a support network.The Social Program has been serving North Central Washington residents for over ten years. Over 900 people and their care givers participate in the program annually. The program provides opportunities for interaction in settings where only our group is present, and also in situations where we are engaging the community. Activities have ranged from boat trips on Lake Chelan on the Lady of the Lake, trips to local athletic events and movies, pizza and karaoke nights, shopping trips, picnics and very popular holiday dances. The program also provides coaching of appropriate social skills and encourages healthy, positive interactions. Friendships within the program blossom, and individuals learn practical skills and build their self-confidence by participating. The program is made possible through a partnership with Chelan Douglas Development Disabilities Council.The Social Program was selected for the award from a field of candidates by an awards committee comprised of parks and recreation professionals from around the State. The award will be presented to the City of Wenatchee Parks and Recreation Department at the joint Washington Recreation and Park Association and Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Conference in Seattle on April 9th.The Washington Recreation and Park Association (WRPA) was established in 1947. It is the professional membership organization for the field of parks and recreation in the State of Washington. There are currently over 1,350 members in WRPA and that number is growing.Members represent a broad spectrum of agencies and organizations including: Cities, counties, State parks, universities, utility districts, park districts, conservation groups, sports and youth organizations, commercial members and other entities.For more information, contact Dave Erickson or Caryl Morrell of the City of Wenatchee Parks and Recreation Department at (509) 888-3280 or (509) 888-3282.

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