Leisure Services Director and Department Recognized for efforts
Last month the Utah Recreation and Parks Association (URPA) recognized recreation departments from around the state of Utah for their programs and success.
For the second time in three years the Santaquin Leisure Services Department won Outstanding Department in the Class 1 division. Santaquin also won the award in 2010 for cities with a population of 15,000 or less.
“We’ve won something every year,” said Kevin Schmidt, Director of Leisure Services.
The department also scored a nomination for Outstanding Program of the Year for their “Family Night” program during last year’s Orchard Days celebration, and Schmidt was presented with the Outstanding Young Professional Award.
Schmidt, who has been the Director of the department going on five years now, says he and his staff have worked hard to offer Santaquin residents special recreational opportunities.
“For me, every single citizen in Santaquin, I feel the weight and responsibility of offering recreation opportunities to them,” said Schmidt.
Prior to Schmidt’s hiring in 2007, the Santaquin Recreation Department operated roughly eight basic sports programs in the city with participation in the mid-hundreds. As of April 2012, Schmidt’s department has added more than 50 programs with 9000 participants.
“When I first got here the Mayor when he hired me told me, ‘I want you to build programs and stay within a budget, make these programs self-sufficient,’” said Schmidt. “I’ve taken that to heart and tried really hard to add as many programs as I can and make those programs self sufficient.”
Apart from the staple programs like baseball and basketball, Schmidt has spear-headed the additions of programs such as Zumba, Adult Co-ed Kickball, and activities like Kid’s Night Out. With the help of various part-time secretaries and full-time Sports Coordinator Amy Johnson, the Leisure Services Department is offering more options to Santaquin residents than ever before.
He also feels there’s always room for more. If enough people request a program Schmidt says he takes the time to consider its feasibility.
“If there’s enough interest we should try to make that possible,” said Schmidt. “If little Joey down the street is interested in a pottery program then it’s my responsibility to figure out if there’s enough interest to start one.”
Schmidt says the department’s programs are almost all self-sufficient. Apart from baseball and free programs like National Olympics Day, the programs offered make their money back and serve the community.
“We don’t expect our programs to generate a ton of revenue,” added Schmidt. “That’s not the point.”
In an effort to provide recreational opportunities to families who are struggling financially, the Leisure Services Department is starting a scholarship program this summer.
The “Running of the Balls” event, which will take place on May 12 of this year, is a fundraiser dedicated to the scholarship program. In order to generate revenue for the scholarship, citizens can “adopt” a ball for $5 or buy a 5-ball package for $20. Each numbered ball will be entered into a race where all adopted balls will be released down a hill in a race to the bottom. Top-finishing balls will win prizes.
Schmidt sees the event as a fun way to get the community to donate to the scholarship program. “We’re hoping that we can generate enough revenue,” he said. “We need lots of people to adopt balls.”
All the funds raised will go into an account to help families in need pay for recreational activities.