Chandler Parks & Recreation Division becomes a Certified Autism Center

May 9, 2024
Chandler recreation staff

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Supporting an ongoing initiative to make Chandler communities more inclusive, the City of Chandler Parks & Recreation Division is honored to receive the Certified Autism Center designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

"Becoming a Certified Autism Center is a testament to the hard work the City of Chandler staff has put forth to become a more inclusive community,” says Becky Kuiper, recreation superintendent. “Chandler Parks & Recreation believes everyone should have the opportunity to discover, imagine, and grow within our community through accessible and adaptable parks and recreation centers and inclusive programming. This certification empowers our staff to make every interaction safe and enjoyable because, in Chandler, everyone plays!"

The designation was awarded after more than 500 parks and recreation staff completed in-depth training on autism awareness, recognition and understanding of sensory sensitivities.

Part of the certification process was an evaluation of six Chandler facilities and recreation centers, including Chandler Nature Center, Espee Park, Homestead North Park, Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center, Nozomi Aquatic Center and Tumbleweed Recreation Center. Each evaluated facility will be assigned a sensory guide, which provides insight into how a person with sensory-processing sensitivities may experience these facilities. Sensory guides will be available on the City of Chandler website soon.

In addition to their training and certification achievement, Chandler Parks & Recreation offers a variety of programs within its division that are designed for participants of all abilities. Adaptive Recreation programs are available to people with disabilities, and participants may submit a request for modification for any recreation program. New this summer, Chandler Aquatics offers adaptive swim lessons and sensory swim times, where people with sensory sensitivities can enjoy a quieter pool experience.

In June 2023, City Council approved budget amendments including $10,000 in ongoing funding for training and program development to achieve the certified autism designation. This month, the Parks & Recreation Division sought authorization from City Council to work with IBCCES and enter into a five-year agreement supporting the Certified Autism Center designation. The Parks & Recreation Division is the first in the city to go through this credentialing process, which may be expanded to other areas as resources allow. The Certified Autism Center designation follows an approved Chandler City Council agreement from Jan. 11, 2024 to qualify the Parks & Recreation Division with the IBCCES.

Media contact:
Malori Heppler
Marketing & Communications Coordinator