July is Parks & Recreation Month – Taking a look at Recreation and Athletics


Asheville Parks & Recreation has been the trusted steward of the city’s parks, community centers, playgrounds, athletic fields and fields, swimming pools and more for nearly 70 years. There’s no better way to celebrate Parks and Recreation Month than by highlighting the professionals who faithfully serve the community year-round to build a strong, vibrant and resilient community through quality recreational, leisure and active life experiences, often behind the scenes.

Each week in July, a different section of the department will be in the spotlight. Candy Hensley-Shaw and Wayne Simmons answer recovery management questions this week. Candy is the program and operations manager for community and recreation (as well as the interim focus area manager for recreation) and Wayne is the program and operations manager for recreation and athletics.

What does the Recreation Department do and how does it fit into the overall success of Asheville Parks & Recreation?

The Recreation Management Department is what we like to call the frontline crusaders who provide essential services to the community, including athletics and sports, special events, youth programs, adult and senior programs, after-school programs, summer camps, outdoor programs, and therapeutic recreation. We are a team of 46+ professionals and are essentially the most visible part of the department with daily interactions with community members.

What achievements have been made possible over the past year with your department in a leadership role or through significant support?

Recreation Management added a new after-school program at Claxton Elementary and the OAKS Therapeutic Recovery Program at the Murphy-Oakley Community Center. Also, two new ones have been added to our facilities renovated fitness center at the Linwood Crump Shiloh and Stephens-Lee Community Centers, both of which are free to use. Hours of operation have been extended to 10:00 p.m. most days of the week community centers with gyms to provide additional programming and community access.

Are there any responsibilities your department oversees that might surprise the community?

Asheville Parks & Recreation is known as a best kept secret. Sure some know we offer extracurricular programssummer camp and youth and adult Sport, but did you know that we also offer programs for young children, outdoor recreationa indoor climbing wall, therapeutic recovery, senior programs, meal sitesthe Rec n Roll Mobile Activity Vanand special events like Movies in the Park, Truck City AVL, Asheville-Buncombe Senior Games, Tiny Tykes Triathlonand more!

Are there any stories that could help people better understand what recovery management does?

Many people see what we do as just fun and games without knowing all the planning behind the events or programs they are attending. Many of our employees are Certified park and recreation professionals (CPRP), which is a great way to show off your dedication and expertise. We love what we do and it takes a lot of work to plan, organize and implement the services we offer. Our team also prides itself on being able to quickly adapt to the needs of our community. This has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic or when inclement weather impacts school operations.

Would you like to add anything else?

You could say the success of our programs can be measured by the people who have taken part. Many of our summer camp children have grown up through our programs and become collaborators with the next generation of counselors. Some have even transitioned into full-time positions, making it a career choice. And we have our amazing staff to thank for that, who made for a great experience!

Would you like to meet the rest of the team? Check out our previous posts highlighting the resource management and planning and development departments.