“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” -Kent Kilpatrick
Walking along the Greenway on a peaceful, sunny morning is one of the many privileges of living in Athens. Yet, this opportunity would not exist without the hard work of the ACC Leisure Services Department.
This year, the ACC Leisure Services Department added a bridge to the North Oconee River Greenway, as well as provided a series of free swim lessons to local five-year olds, introduced a crime prevention program for teens, establish a new afterschool program for Gaines Elementary, created a Mayor’s Youth Council for local teens, and purchased a 30’ outdoor movie screen to introduce the new community program, “Movies by Moonlight.”
The ACC Leisure Services Department developed a new program called “Kinderswim,” which provided a series of free swim lessons to 187 local five-year olds.
Not surprisingly, registration for all department programs increased by 20% and customer satisfaction was at an all-time high of 93%. The Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) named ACC Leisure Services ‘Agency of the Year’ for cities with a population of 80,000 – 150,000.
This spring, a new “Pop-up Park” program will be introduced. Leisure Services will convert a surplus mini-bus into a mobile park which will bring recreation to locals that find it difficult to access existing services.
The accomplishments of the Leisure Services Department during 2019 stand for themselves, but none of it would be possible without a strong team working behind the scenes.
Kent Kilpatrick is the Director of the Leisure Services Department. His love for the outdoors led him to graduate with a B.S. in Outdoor Recreation from West Georgia College in 1981. Later, he accepted a position managing Sandy Creek Park for the Clarke County Parks Department in 1987. When Athens and Clarke County merged, he became the assistant director for the Leisure Services Department until promoted to Director in 2017.
Before the local city and county governments consolidated in the early 1990’s, Kilpatrick managed Sandy Creek Park for the Clarke County Parks Department.
Kent Kilpatrick finds his work to be incredibly rewarding because of the community engagement it creates:
“From seeing large groups of people enjoy a new park that you helped design to watching a single child laugh and play at one of our programs, the ability to contribute to the quality of life for this community and its residents is very gratifying.”
However, he is concerned that, despite support from citizens, some parks have been “loved to death,” meaning that they require significant upgrades and repair. The Leisure Services Department is hoping to get the necessary funding through the recent SPLOST 2020 tax approval and various grants.
ACC Leisure Services offers Therapeutic Recreation programs, services, and activities like this Native American Celebration featuring crafts and woodland animals.
Keeping the parks system up and running is no easy task. There are so many wonderful amenities and programs thanks to the ACC Leisure Services Department and its staff. People like Kent Kilpatrick are central to the department’s success and, in extension, the success of our community.
Kent, and our Leisure Services team, we thank you and we celebrate you!