Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Member Spotlight: Sandra MacDiarmid

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Member Spotlight: Sandra MacDiarmid

Article excerpt

Sandra MacDiarmid began her career in park and recreation as many do --as a nature and park enthusiast. The Illinois native grew up in her local park system and ultimately began her professional career as a nature, wildlife and portrait artist. After relocating to Jackson, Tennessee, almost 30 years ago, MacDiarmid dove into the world of park and recreation after seeking a position as an instructor for children's and adult art classes in the City of Jackson Park and Recreation Department (JPRD). Over the years, her role has evolved into a number of positions including contract instructor, summer camp arts and crafts director, special events coordinator, set and costume designer for JPRD's theater productions, program administrator, community education director and even director of the Nature Park and Raptor Sanctuary. Today, MacDiarmid is the superintendent of recreation for the city of Jackson where she is a champion for health and wellness in her community. We spoke with MacDiarmid about her role as superintendent and enjoyed a deeper look at one of Jackson's most successful wellness programs--the JumpStart Jackson initiative.

Parks & Recreation magazine: Give us some detail about your role as JRPD superintendent

Sandra MacDiarmid: As superintendent, my official duties are mainly administrative and supervisory, but I still manage to keep an active hand in my first love: programming and working with children. On any given day, you may find me at a city council meeting or speaking at a Kiwanis luncheon in the morning, and then out at my Nature Park, trimming eagle talons or doing after-school nature programs. I've learned to keep the trunk of my car fully stocked with a selection of what I call my "grownup" clothes and my "play clothes" for days when I'm playing multiple roles.

P&R: When did the JumpStart Jackson initiative begin and what sort of community response have you seen to date?

MacDiarmid: The JumpStart Jackson initiative began in 2007 in response to a City Council directive to create a taskforce addressing the burgeoning childhood obesity problem in Jackson, and Tennessee as a whole. At first, we anticipated negative push-back from the community --or at least antipathy with the community facing many more immediate, serious issues of crime, poverty and unemployment. …

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