Park District recognized for innovation during the 2020 Covid-19 shutdown

The Mundelein Park & Recreation District is proud to have been chosen as a winner of the Power of Parks Award by the Illinois Association of Park Districts. The award recognizes IAPD members that have displayed innovative and insightful ways to pivot their programs, events and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. An online video of the IAPD Best of the Best Gala will be available November 12.

The following reflects upon actions we took during the Spring shutdown.

2020 has been a year like no other. The Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak has forced the world to pivot to a new way of living and connecting. Staff at Mundelein Park & Recreation District (MPRD) rose to the occasion with a variety of activities and communications to keep our community connected, healthy, engaged, and informed.

Connecting our Community to Health
The shutdown forced people out of their fitness routines. Within two weeks, our fitness instructors developed free, daily online fitness classes, available to anyone interested. The Regent Center fitness instructors offered free fitness programs geared toward our active adults (50+) demographic. Go Mundelein introduced themed walks for those who preferred outdoor fitness. Themes included Pick up trash while you walk; Walk to a park with a path; Walk with family; Walk in the snow, and Sidewalk Chalk. We encouraged walkers to share pictures of their walks on social media. Rather than canceling the event, the 41st Freedom Classic 5K went virtual. Runners could choose the traditional Freedom Classic course, a path of their own. Participants received a commemorative t-shirt and medal and were encouraged to post pictures of their race.

The Mindful Minute series addresses social/emotional health. We filmed these nature videos in our parks and encouraged viewers to take a moment of calm reflection.

Our Marketing Manager wrote and illustrated, My New mask, a story to explain to young children why they need to wear face coverings. We created a video reading of the story in English and Spanish. Later, we made it into a paperback and published on Amazon.com as a fundraiser for Mundelein Parks Foundation. Since May, My New Mask has been viewed online 3,700 times and has sold over 400 copies raising over $1,000.

Keeping our Community Engaged through Online Fun
Cold and rainy springs meant that we needed to create indoor activities to engage our community. Each day we posted a Mundelein Park District-themed activity sheet. Puzzles included word finds, mazes, word scrambles, scavenger hunts, coloring sheets, and other activities. Later, we expanded on this idea to create Mundelein Parks Activity Book, a downloadable pdf.

At the onset of the shutdown, we introduced BOREDOM BUSTERS on social media. These fun contests kept our community engaged and entertained. People of all enjoyed using their talents and creativity to produce amazing entries. These included: Cake Wars, Art Wars, Best Pet Trick, Best DIY Obstacle Course, Mundelein’s Got Talent, Tik Tok Dance, Free Throw Challenge, Egg Decorating Contest, Pet Photo Contest, and more.

Connecting the Community to a sense of normalcy

We produced a special virtual activity brochure that offered recreational programs online. Programs included baking, art, dance, language, stem, sports, and Bingo. Dancers in the long-term dance program worked hard on their routines. After the closure, teachers taught classes on Zoom. Because of Covid-19, we could not hold the traditional recital. Rather than cancel it completely, we recorded dancers as they performed each number while wearing masks. We will show the recital as a movie in park later this summer.

Connecting through Celebration during Covid-19

Covid-19 has meant that we need to celebrate differently. Even small gatherings were discouraged. Knowing how important these celebrations are, we developed a Porch Party package, a 10 ft colorful balloon garland display to honor special occasions. In lieu of a Mother’s Day event, we created Marvelous Moms, a tribute video created with photos and messages submitted by our community. Local businesses partnered with the District and donated prizes for a raffle. Marvelous Moms was an outlet for residents to honor their moms during social distancing and to bring attention to participating local businesses.

Connecting with heart

After the abrupt closure, teachers and staff at Big & Little Child Development Center and Rec Connection, (our before and after school care program), connected with the children through video messages of support and good wishes. To offset isolation, the Adult Recreation Supervisor sent daily email letters to Regent Center members. We also organized a video of Regent Center member messages. Many members found enjoyment and comfort from this outreach.

Keeping the Community Informed

We produced regular Director Update videos from our Executive Director to keep the community updated and informed. We created videos to explain changes and safety procedures with the reopening of NovaCare Fitness, Big & Little Child Development Center, and swimming lessons.

Power of the Parks MPRD initiatives in  images