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Feature Article - November 2010

Finding Space

Making Room for Fitness Programming

By Wynn St. Clair


No one would envy the recreation programming space in Poquoson, Va., a coastal town of about 11,000 people. There's no fitness center or indoor pool within the city limits. The nearest YMCA is about 10 minutes away.

Yet, despite these obstacles, local recreation officials have crafted a creative, engaging programming schedule filled with classes found at the biggest of parks departments. In Poquoson, residents can learn to play field hockey, compete in fishing tournaments and participate in a women's kickball league, among other things.

The offerings reflect an innovative staff that finds programming space wherever they can find it: primary school gymnasiums, the municipal building, school cafeterias or public meeting rooms. In Poquoson, recreation officials know if they find the right class or sports league, they'll be able to make room for it somewhere. Their innovative approach is one that could be emulated by any parks department, regardless of size, budget or space limitations.

"You have to be a good programmer," recreation official Gretchen Gochenour said. "You've got to be creative, and you don't always want to mimic the closest locality. Do those things you know the people like, staples like basketball. But also, don't be afraid to try something new."

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