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[DeSoto, TX], October 22, 2014 — DeSoto Parks and Recreation received the National Excellence in Innovative Programming Award from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).  NRPA presented the award on October 15th to M. Renee Johnson, Managing Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of DeSoto and Recreation Manager, Chris Glover during the Best of the Best Ceremony at the 2014 NRPA Congress in Charlotte, NC. 

Each year, NRPA National Awards are presented to individuals and agencies across the U.S. to honor their efforts—both professional and personal—in the field of parks and recreation. There are 10 award categories in the NRPA’s National Awards program. Recipients are selected from a pool of applicants by NRPA’s National Awards and Scholarship Committee, and are chosen for excellence in a variety of topics, including professional and voluntary service, programming, leadership, research and public outreach. 

The Excellence in Innovative Programming Award recognizes and honors an agency that demonstrates leadership through advanced, groundbreaking ideas in programming. The award highlights the efforts and impact an agency has made in promoting or increasing the awareness of the benefits of parks and recreation in their community.

The DeSoto Parks and Recreation Department was recognized for three innovative programs they created for the suburban community.  The cutting edge programs promoted sustainable healthy lifestyle habits for minority women and teen leadership development. 

  • In 2013, DPARD hosted Fro-Fest, a hair and health expo, designed to educate women on the correlation of natural hair and wellness and celebrate the heritage of African American Culture.  The event, hosted by actress      Kim Coles, kicked off with a 5K run and featured a vendor fair offering natural hair products and services and educational seminars. 
  • DeSoto’s Summertime on Belt Line program was initiated to provide activities that would engage middle and high schoolers during the summer months.  The program incorporates fitness, the arts, leadership and job      readiness training with fun and camaraderie.  Summertime on Belt Line, which has been operating successfully for the last four years, fills up quickly each summer with students anxious to participate in the   program.
  • DeSoto Parks and Recreation is also known for their active Youth Advisory Council.  This group hosts the Hip Hop Summit annually.  This event incorporates all aspects of Hip Hop culture, exposing teenagers to professional business opportunities while enhancing leadership skills through planning a Hip Hop entertainment event.

“The DeSoto Parks and Recreation staff works diligently all year long to provide exceptional fitness, recreation, health and wellness experiences for our residents,” said DeSoto Mayor, Carl O. Sherman, Jr.  “I’m very pleased to see them getting the recognition for their efforts that they so richly deserve.”

“NRPA is pleased to honor our nation’s park and recreation heroes—agencies and individuals who work tirelessly and with passion to improve the lives of their citizens and make their communities great,” said Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO of NRPA.

A full list of NRPA National Award winners is available at

 The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 40,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

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