The Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department has become the first parks and recreation organization in the U.S. and the world to become a Certified Autism Center, a designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) that demonstrates the organization's commitment to ensuring guests with autism and sensory sensitivities have the best possible experience.
"Mesa is well known as a destination for families to both live and visit," Mayor John Giles said. "I am proud that our Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department took that priority a step further to ensure that children on the autism spectrum have a fun experience in Mesa."
Approximately 500 employees of the Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department recently completed awareness and sensitivity training, as well as an onsite review by IBCCES of multiple parks and facilities.
"The training our staff has undergone highlights our commitment to making sure our programs and activities are inclusive to all in the community," Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Director Marc Heirshberg said. "The training has made us more aware of how to effectively provide our services to people with autism."
Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities is the first municipal parks department and one of the larger agencies to participate in the IBCCES training. Employees from Visit Mesa and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce also recently completed the training and have also received autism-certified designations.
"It's exciting to partner with an organization that is so committed to inclusion and has done so much amazing work in their community to ensure everyone has options. The CAC designation from IBCCES is the next step in this mission and we're proud to work with the Mesa Parks and Recreation team to ensure they continue to grow these initiatives," IBCCES Board Chairman Myron Pincomb said. "We partner with industry leaders from around the world, and the team in Mesa is no exception - the work they have put into the IBCCES program and their public spaces is above and beyond!"
Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find choosing destinations and attractions a challenge due to sensory needs, dietary restrictions and safety concerns. In recent years, the popularity of "autism-friendly" options has grown; however, visitors often seek out organizations that have completed research-based training or certification to ensure their needs can be met.
For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for healthcare, education and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children with special needs have limited trained travel and entertainment options and created programs specifically for those industries.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center (CAC) requirements.
Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities
Contact: Kevin Christopher