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Woodridge Park District Receives Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency Award

The Woodridge Park District has been recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA).

The two statewide associations administer the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program with the goal of improving the delivery of park and recreation services to Illinois residents. “Illinois has a reputation for the best park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies in the nation,” said Peter Murphy, IAPD President and CEO. “The Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program provides an opportunity for these agencies to undergo a voluntary, comprehensive evaluation process to demonstrate that they have met state guidelines to provide exceptional park and recreation services to their community. The end result is to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents.”

“This program gives recognition to park and recreation agencies that go above and beyond in dedicating themselves to offering quality programs and services designed to fulfill their community’s needs,” said Barry Franks, IPRA Interim Executive Director.

A park district or recreation agency interested in applying for Distinguished Accredited Agency recognition undergoes a detailed, lengthy process of application and evaluation. A Joint Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Committee (JDPRAC) comprised of members from IAPD and IPRA coordinates the process. “Agencies submit a self-evaluation and a formal letter requesting admission into the process,” said Jeff Rigoni, IAPD Co-Chair of the JDPRAC. “If the committee determines the agency is eligible to continue the process, we send them an evaluation date.”

According to Rigoni, on the day of the evaluation, the agency presents documented information and gives a tour of pertinent facilities and parks for the evaluation team’s review.

The team reviews general management procedures, finance and business operations, facilities and parks, personnel, recreation services, legal documentation and other materials including mission statements, goals, and safety manuals.

Upon completion of the evaluation, the agency is notified in writing of the official results within ten days. Agencies that have achieved Distinguished Accredited status are recognized during the IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference in January.

“There are tremendous benefits for an agency that achieves Distinguished Accredited status,” said Bill McAdam, IPRA Co-Chair of the JDPRAC. “The agency’s application and review process is an excellent self-evaluation and agencies that apply realize increased operational efficiency and effectiveness. Communities can have confidence that their park district or recreation agency employs qualified professionals and has met professional standards.”

The Woodridge Park District applied for the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program in June 2021 and was approved Distinguished Accredited status in November 2021. The District received 499.3 out of a possible 500 points on the review and some of the highlights of the evaluation include: “The District’s individual facilities, presentation and maintenance – all very top notch,” , “Very professional staff that seemed to work well as a team,” “The Park District is highly respected and a leader across the community,” and “We are extremely impressed with the agency and the score reflected this.” The District previously held Distinguished Agency status from 1993-2016.

“We are thrilled to have been honored again with Distinguished Accredited Agency status,” said Executive Director Mike Adams. “I am very proud of the Commissioners and Staff’s dedication and commitment to the accreditation program to improve the quality of life for the community through the delivery of exceptional park and recreation services. The Woodridge Park District was one of the first three original park districts in the State of Illinois to receive the Distinguished Agency Award in 1993. With this recent re-accreditation recognition, the District is one of approximately 50 park districts and recreation agencies out of 400+ park districts, special recreation agencies, forest preserve and conservation districts in the State of Illinois. Woodridge Park District is truly one of the ‘Best of the Best’ in the state.”

In compliance with the program, the Woodridge Park District will be reevaluated in six years to verify that they have continued to demonstrate sound management practices in providing quality park and recreation services to the community.

IAPD is a non-profit service, research and education organization that serves park districts, forest preserves, conservation, and recreation agencies. The association advances these agencies, their citizen board members, and professional staff in their ability to provide outstanding park and recreation opportunities, preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life for all people in Illinois.

Established in 1944, IPRA’s mission is to provide and promote exceptional standards of education, networking, and resources for all professionals in the Illinois park, recreation, and conservation communities.

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