Saturday, September 25, 2021

Meet Oscar, Club Metro Lead and GOAT

Club Metro is back for Fall! We have several weeks of outstanding adaptive recreation opportunities and a world-class staff leading the way!

Club Metro is Southlake’s premier Adaptive Recreation program. Focused on inclusivity and fun, Club Metro provides recreation and leisure opportunities to people of all abilities. Everyone knows that Club Metro is one of the best programs in Southlake, and that’s largely thanks to our world-class Club Metro Lead, Oscar Rodriguez.

Oscar exhibits a quiet kind of leadership. He is very calm and always has everyone’s best interest at heart. Oscar has been a Lead at Club Metro for the last ten years and teaches special education full-time during the school year. A servant-leader at heart, Oscar knows the importance of Adaptive Recreation. He always incorporates his exemplarily social skills, contagious happiness, and earnest collaboration when interacting with Club Metro participants and staff. Oscar makes sure that everyone feels included and has a seat at the table.

Oscar is also in charge of running Club Metro activities—a duty he executes with kindness and grace. If a Game Night is going on, Oscar teaches participants how to play and then joins in on the fun. Oscar is a mentor and a friend through and through. He never misses a chance to teach participants about the meaning of friendship, respecting others, and having fun.

His mentorship extends beyond Club Metro participants and onto the staff. Oscar always gives staff opportunities to grow and create positive relationships with participants. Fellow staff members feel comfortable reaching out to him for guidance on personal and professional matters. Oscar aims to make sure everyone feels safe in the Club Metro environment.

Here’s what Oscar has to say about being a Club Metro Lead:

What do you like best about Club Metro?
What I love most about Club Metro are the participants. I love seeing them grow and enjoy being there. You can tell that they want to come back the following week.

When I first started with Club Metro, we only had 12 participants. Now we have over 60! Every day is a highlight: their smiles, their stories. I like making them feel like movie stars every day because Club Metro is truly about them.

I like to focus on soft skills like communication, social techniques, and daily living skills. It’s critical to practice those every day. That’s what keeps me in the program. Some of the people I work with started the program as teenagers, and now they are successful adults in their 30s!

I love seeing them become independent, and we do various things around DFW, especially before COVID. When Club Metro has an outing, the focus is on safety and fun. We go to restaurants, the movies, the library, and it’s all about learning independence and having the freedom to be themselves.

What is one of your proudest achievements?
I love this question because it’s not about me, it’s about the participants. My achievements are their achievements. They are successful young adults, and that’s very rewarding.

I wish I could measure success tangibly, but it comes down to how they feel daily. Every day is different, but the best part is taking something negative and turning it into a positive. We practice sharing personal experiences and talking about what they have going on in their lives. Self-advocacy is key. We also do various sports like baseball and basketball—that’s what recreation is all about! Therapeutic Recreation is about learning real-life skills, and the recreational part is about having fun.

How did you know you wanted to go into Adaptive Recreation?
I started this career 30 years ago as a Special Education teacher. That experience made me want to continue working with this community and help kids with their individual educational needs. I also have a lot of after-school recreational experience. I used to coach sports, referee, and play!

There’s a real need for Adaptive Recreation in sports, and being a teacher taught me the special needs aspects of it. Therapeutic Recreation combines both of my passions into one!

I also really love working with my fellow staff members. Everyone puts their all into making this program successful, and I enjoy watching them grow. In the future, there will be many people just like me, and they will have the skills needed to work with this population.

In the words of Programs Coordinator Gretchen Morgan, “Oscar is literally the GOAT: Greatest of All Time!”

Club Metro would not be the success it is without Oscar. Get to know him at the next Club Metro meeting starting on September 13! Register here.

Our Parks and Recreation Story: The Faces of Southlake Programs

Park and Recreation Month may officially be over, but it’s never too late to celebrate the world-class programming team behind all your favorite community activities.

Let’s get to know them a little better as they share Our Parks and Recreation Story:

Hannah Nyquist, Programs Coordinator

This summer, we hosted our third Cross Timbers Nature Camp at the Bob Jones Nature Center! When I started in 2019, I spent my first day learning the ropes of camp. Two years later and Nature Camp has grown in so many ways. We have a steady following of return campers that we have seen grow over the years and got to know dozens of families. This summer, I was thrilled to have a team of experienced counselors- including our beloved Camp Director, Madeleine Mott. We expanded Nature Camp from a concept to a family, and I am incredibly proud to be a part of that. Together we were able to serve over 200 campers!

Hiking to Grapevine Lake, having weekly presenters teach our campers, and watching staff blossom into remarkable counselors are some of my favorite memories this summer. We also have the pleasure and responsibility to share the importance of stewardship with our campers, along with the Jones Family’s remarkable story.

This summer, we added Forest Preschool classes outside of our fall and spring semesters. I served as Lead Teacher for these classes and taught alongside our incredibly gifted and passionate preschool teachers. Our Friday Forest Preschool days meant hours playing outside, hiking, and exploring with almost 100 preschoolers. We focused on different animals who live at BJNCP, the word “habitat,” and how important it is to respect nature.

Gretchen Morgan, Programs Coordinator

I started as a counselor in 2019. Summer Camp Mania changed my life for the greater good in various ways. I learned to be a listener, role model, creator, achiever, and leader. I got to enhance my skills through special events and programs. In 2020, I applied to become a full-time employee. This year, I received the full-time position of Programs Coordinator. I could not be prouder and more honored to step into this role for the City of Southlake.

This summer, Camp Mania was located at Durham Intermediate School. Games, crafts, and activities filled each day. Some days guests would come to share their talents with our campers. These guests were from the City of Southlake Fire Department, Airbrush Tattoos, Kona Ice, and Martial Arts. On Thursdays, we would explore Bicentennial Park and swim in our Aquatics Center at The Marq. We take each moment we have with each camper to impact them positively.

We also manage our Club Metro program located at Legend’s Hall. Club Metro is an adaptive recreation program that welcomes adults with special needs. These participants come twice a week to socialize, eat, and have fun. Some activities we do are scavenger hunts, basketball tournaments, and crafts. We also meet once a month every Saturday for Sports Saturday. This program gives the participants a chance to learn volleyball, basketball, dodgeball while moving their bodies and learning new skills.

Overall, our programs create a place to learn about a sport, play a game, and socialize. They also provide a safe and fun environment for participants to learn, grow, and become their amazing selves.

Madeleine Mott, Camp Director

I love when people ask me what I do for a living because I get to answer in so many unexpected and fun ways. For example, I hike for a living, am a mad scientist, am an entomologist. I mass-produce future tree huggers, make a lasting difference in children’s lives, and am a snake charmer. I play games all day, am a medic, a forest preschool teacher, a butterfly whisperer. I am an edible plants taster, a steward, an artist. I am a nature camp director.

Working at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve, I have the opportunity to wear so many different hats. I love our programs, their participants, and the enthusiastic individuals I get to work with every day. I enjoy how working for the Programs Division allows me to explore this beautiful preserve and teach future generations how to love and take care of it and its inhabitants. At the BJNCP, I truly live out the “Life is Good” motto. “Do what you like, like what you do.”

Emma Blight, Camp Director

The Programs Division creates a space for people of all ages to learn, grow, and connect with our staff and other participants. While working in our programs, I have built relationships and made memories that will last a long time. From programs such as Camp Mania, Club Metro, to Breakfast with Santa, one of my favorite things we do is provide hands-on experiences for everyone involved. Whether that is playing against the Southlake DPS in a game of dodgeball at Camp Mania, or getting to play with a baby kangaroo at Club Metro, the experiences we provide are truly exciting.

Courtney Duplechin, Programs Supervisor

This team never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud of each person who has contributed to the success of the Programs Team! My favorite part of Programs is that each team member is so incredibly passionate about what we do. Whether they are playing games with kids or planning the next big event, this talented team thinks through every detail and how it connects people to nature, friends, family, new hobbies, the community, creativity, and more! Everyone is willing to go the extra mile to give our participants a special moment to remember.

I started working for Southlake Parks and Recreation in 2015 as a Camp Mania counselor. A favorite part of my job is seeing kids who were once campers or volunteers in my group grow up to volunteer or work for the Programs team. It is so special, even though it confirms I’m getting old, to know that we are making an impact in a child’s life and that years later, they want to join the team to do the same for others.

We love what we do, give our all to providing exciting and educational programs, and care deeply for the people we serve.

Thank you to the Programs Team for being so committed to creating life-long memories for the Southlake community!

Club Metro is in Full Swing this Spring

Club Metro hit the ground running this Spring season to provide world-class Adaptive Recreation programs to our Southlake residents.

A Parks and Recreation Department is only as strong as its ease of accessibility to quality programming for every resident. Southlake’s Adaptive Recreation programs aim to encourage residents of all abilities to lead an active lifestyle. Club Metro is Southlake’s premier program, bringing together our community with opportunities for socialization, learning, and fun!

Club Metro has been busy this Spring welcoming back old and new faces alike. With multiple weekly in-person and virtual meeting options available, there is always something exciting happening at Club Metro! Club members can look forward to art, games, yoga classes, special guests, and more! New activities this season include Zumba classes and virtual themed-goody boxes for club members to enjoy at home.

This season, Club Metro is introducing two new opportunities for increased interaction! Due to popular demand, Mondays will now be offered to supplement Tuesdays, Thursdays, and virtual Wednesdays. In addition, Club Metro introduced Sports Saturdays on March 27. Sports like Kickball, Softball, and Basketball are now available to players of all abilities.

All successful recreation programs require passion and dedication from staff and the community, and Club Metro is no exception. The connections formed in Club Metro lead to incredible life-long memories for everyone involved.

“Club Metro has always been about meeting new friends, learning new and exciting activities, and of course having fun!” Exclaimed Club Lead, Oscar Rodriguez.

Register for the next Club Metro meeting here.