Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Wins Awards for Outstanding Service, Programs, and Events

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation (VBPR) continues to be a leader in the parks and recreation field, and was recognized with four prestigious awards from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS) recently at the VRPS Awards Banquet held in Arlington, VA. 

  • Distinguished Service: Kari Diop

Kari Diop has been an active member of VRPS since 2002 with 19 years of experience working in the parks and recreation field as a full-time recreation professional, having made a positive impact on three municipal organizations (Chesapeake, Suffolk & Virginia Beach). She was recognized with a VRPS Distinguished Service Award for her dedication to the parks and recreation industry and participation on various service boards in the region and across the country. Her credentials include Certified Park and Recreation Professional through NRPA, Certified Program Planner through LERN, and completion of NRPA's Revenue and Management Development School and VRPS's Leadership Training Institute.

  • Distinguished Volunteer Service: Cape Henry Collegiate School

In 2013, Ashleigh Cake and her sixth grade science classes from Cape Henry Collegiate School began volunteering with Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation. Since then, all of the science classes participate in an annual volunteer trip to clean up a particular park while a VBPR staff member provides environmental information relevant to their cleanup site. The litter they collect is inventoried and separated into specific categories based on the material, then weighed and discarded appropriately. Water samples are also taken to determine if fecal coliform is present and the levels of nitrates, phosphates, and sediment. This learning experience connects the students to their community through service and teaches them about the impact they have on the environment.

  • Best New Program (population over 200,000): VBe Better Youth Volunteer Camp

VBe Better Youth Volunteer Camp is a week-long program designed to engage participants in volunteerism. Started in summer 2018, the camp is geared toward youth who will complete the week with a certified letter of 40 hours of volunteer work and a sense of how important it is to give back to the community. Campers volunteer with different organizations each day, providing a better understanding of volunteerism – and opening their eyes to the different obstacles others face from illness to poverty to environmental impacts.

  • Best New Special Event (population over 200,000): Unity Week

Unity Week was launched in October 2018 by VBPR as an effort spearheaded by the Inclusion Services Unit to promote the acceptance of everyone in our community. The week was filled with public engagement activities including targeted social media messages, weaving projects, and an outdoor movie showing of "Wonder" to celebrate and promote the theme of inclusion. Additional activities took place throughout the week in the recreation centers and in Out-of-School Time programs that brought awareness, understanding, and acceptance of differences.​

VRPS is a private, non-profit professional organization, founded in 1953 and incorporated in 1956. Its purpose is to unite all professionals, students, and interested laypersons engaged in the field of recreation, parks and other leisure services in the Commonwealth of Virginia, into one body. The members work together to promote and improve the profession in all its diversity.

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​About Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation
Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation strives to promote healthy lifestyles and protect the City's coastal environment, as well as to ensure all residents – regardless of their physical, social and economic circumstances – can access Parks & Recreation programs. The department's vision is to be the national leader in providing enriching and memorable lifelong experiences. Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA, the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association. For more information, visit or call (757) 385-1100 (TTY: 757-711 Virginia Relay). Sign up for Parks & Rec email newsletters at Find us on Facebook at

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