Seattle Parks expands programs for special populations with 2015 Park District funding

Though 2015 is considered a ramp-up year for the Park District, (2016 being the first year that the District collects property taxes) Seattle Parks and Recreation has already implemented two new exciting community programs.

Using ramp-year funding, Seattle Parks was able to hire a half-time Recreation Specialist to officially launch its dementia-friendly programming citywide. Cayce Cheairs started with Seattle Parks in January and has since led excursions and classes for seniors all over the city.

Seattle Parks launched dementia-friendly programming in 2015 with the support of Park District funds.

“I am excited that our city is undergoing a transformation to become a dementia-friendly and inclusive community and I’m thrilled that our city government is onboard.” Cheairs said. “Our Parks and Recreation department is unique in the nation with the launch of dementia-friendly recreation, and we already are serving as a model to other cities. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with and collaborate with inspiring and fearless community members and mutually-supportive and creative community organizations. I’m especially excited for opportunities to connect with and learn from our community members living with memory loss.”

So far this year, dementia-friendly recreation participants have had the opportunity to participate in Arts in the Park watercolor painting at Golden Gardens, guided fitness walks and an annual talent show among other things. Cheairs said her goal for the remainder of the year is to connect with Seattle senior centers, develop partnerships and spread the word about these programs in Seattle’s communities.

“In order to best serve ‘all citizens’ as our Parks and Recreation mission proposes, we are adjusting and expanding our programs so that all community members indeed have ‘safe and welcoming opportunities to play, learn, contemplate, and build community,’ including members living with memory loss,” Cheairs said. “This, we believe, enriches the whole community.”

Specialized Programs added an extra week of summer camp using 2015 Park District ramp-up funds.

In addition to dementia-friendly recreation, Seattle Parks and Recreation is able to add an additional week of youth overnight summer camp this year for its Specialized Programs unit, which serves youth with disabilities. The extra week of camp will allow the department to serve 60 more campers.

In 2013, one of the most popular comments on a departmental community survey was a request for more camp opportunities. Parents told Specialized Programs leaders that they are grateful to have more opportunities for their children.

“Camp is a magical place for the campers because it allows them to have the same summer experience as their peers,” Recreation Leader Kyle Bywater said. “It is a place where parents feel safe to send their children because staff are fully trained. Campers get to make new friends, sing songs, play games, do crafts and enjoy entertainment every day. Camp is also special for parents as it gives them some respite. Some parents have never left their children with anyone overnight, so it gives them nights to relax as well.”

For more information on the Park District, please visit

Congratulations to the Seattle Parks Little Sharks!

The Little Sharks pose with a couple of the Seattle Sea Gals after receiving their ribbons.

Over the weekend, the Seattle Parks Little Sharks basketball team competed in the Special Olympics Washington Winter Games in Wenatchee. The Sharks took home fourth place ribbons and had a great time representing Seattle Parks and Recreation at the opening ceremonies, during the competition and at the Victory Dinner and dance! We are very proud of our team!

More photos from the event can be found on the Specialized Programs Facebook page.

Seattle Parks Specialized Programs athletes earn medals

About 50 adults and a dozen youth from Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Specialized Programs headed to Joint Base Lewis McChord last weekend, May 30-June 1, to compete in the Special Olympics Washington 2014 Summer Games.

In order to participate, the athletes had to qualify through the regional tournament. Seattle Parks had representatives in track and field and swimming events. The teams were led by coaches Jessica Zemke, Tori Fernau and Jayson Powell.

“There were lots of medals won and smiles all around,” Recreation Program Specialist Kyle Bywater said. “It was a great two-day weekend put on by Special Olympics!”

To see more photos from the event, visit the Specialized Programs Facebook page here.

Make moves, make money for Seattle Parks Specialized Programs

Specialized programs hiking field trip


Help raise funds to support Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Specialized Programs, which offer activities for youth and adults with disabilities.  Take part in the Movin’ for Money swim or walk-a-thon with friends and family on Sunday, May 18, and rack up the donations.

Specialized Programs hosts events such as the Special Olympics, wheelchair basketball, weekend trips, after-school programs, fitness classes and summer camping trips.

Movin’ for Money events include:
• Swimming from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at Meadowbrook Pool, 10515 35th Ave. NE
• Walking from 3-4 p.m. at the Nathan Hale High School track, 10750 30th Ave. NE
• Party and refreshments for swimmers and walkers from 4-5:30 p.m. at Meadowbrook Community Center, 10515 35th Ave. NE

Participants are asked to only participate in one event, either swimming or walking.


The purpose of the event is to raise funds for equipment, special events, summer camp fees, and scholarships throughout the year. It is an opportunity for community members and program participants and their families and friends to show support for Specialized Programs by getting pledges for walking or swimming.

The public can support the fundraiser in several ways:
1) Obtain pledges and swim or walk.
2) Sponsor a swimmer or walker.
3) Make a tax-deductible donation.
4) Come to the event and volunteer, or show support for our participants and family members.

To send a donation, please mail a check or money order payable to “Specialized Programs” at Specialized Programs, 4554 NE 41st St. Seattle, WA 98105.

For more information or to volunteer, please call Specialized Programs at 206-684-4590.

Seattle Parks works in partnership with the Associated Recreation Council (ARC) to bring high-quality, accessible and affordable recreation opportunities to the people of Seattle. For more information on ARC, please see