Queen Creek Parks and Recreation receives autism certification

The designation of Certified Autism Center (CAC) helps create a more inclusive environment in community spaces. Submitted graphic)

The Town of Queen Creek strives to accommodate all residents and visitors, and in an effort to enrich opportunities for individuals and families with autism, the Parks and Recreation Department recently completed a training and certification program through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards.

The designation of Certified Autism Center helps create a more inclusive environment in community spaces. As part of the certification process, IBCCES also reviewed key parks and community resources and will be providing additional information and guides for visitors and residents to the area, according to a release.

Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“Queen Creek strives to be an inclusive community for people of all abilities,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said in the release. “This certification is an important milestone towards that goal. It better prepares our staff to interact with individuals with autism, enhancing their experience at our parks and in our programs. We are committed to providing quality programs and services for the entire community and are excited to achieve this designation to better serve Queen Creek.”

Becoming a CAC is just one way Queen Creek is working to expand opportunities for people of all abilities. The Recreation Department recently partnered with Friends of Horseshoe Park to offer free adaptive recreation programs. Themed activities are presented in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment – the next class is 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Recreation Annex.

Queen Creek’s newest park, Mansel Carter Oasis Park, includes inclusive-focused play equipment. Through a partnership with Banner Ironwood Medical Center, the entire area has poured rubber surfacing, including the sand play area, allowing people of various abilities to play alongside one another, according to the release.

The park also includes signage highlighting the importance of play for the health and wellbeing of the community, which is further supported through the CAC designation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, and the diagnosis rates have risen in past years.

Myron Pincomb

“The need is growing for all organizations to be able to welcome individuals and families with autism – we provide an evidence-based and proven method to ensure staff can have more positive interactions with their friends and neighbors, as well as visitors,” Myron Pincomb, IBCCES board chairman, said in the release. “Certification takes their commitment to beyond autism friendly and provides a way for them to ensure they have access to resources.”

Parents with children on the autism spectrum often struggle when looking for recreational options, due to specific needs and sensory sensitivities, as well as a lack of information on places they want to visit or activities they want to engage in, the release states.

IBCCES recognized these limitations and created certification programs specifically designed to help recreational and travel related organizations understand how to be more welcoming and accommodating. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism and cognitive disorder training and certification, working with education, healthcare and corporate professionals to ultimately improve the quality of life for individuals with these disorders.

IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center requirements.

For more information about parks, trails and recreation opportunities in Queen Creek, go to QueenCreek.org/Recreation. To stay updated on town events and activities, follow Facebook.com/QCRecreation or Twitter.com/TownofQC.

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