by Morgan Powell, Commissioner Champaign Park District
Communication is not just a giving of information, but receiving as well. Messages can be relayed in writing, verbally as by telephone, or face to face. These are the three basic methods of communication.
In your park district you have a need to relay messages every day whether it be to the commissioners, your staff, the news media, the general public, or other governmental bodies. In all instances, you should follow definite steps in communicating. First, you should know what to say. Be assuring, not aggressive. Be decisive not argumentative. Organize your thoughts in a clear and concise manner so as not to confuse your audience.
Know your audience-you may be able to categorize groups of people. This would especially be helpful when talking to a group where you must relay some pertinent information. Select your words carefully and don't try to talk over their heads. You want their favorable attention.
When communicating in writing, don't start every paragraph in the "I" mode. Don't you get tired of reading letters that read "I this—and I that—"? Develop a "You" mode. You want the person (s) you are communicating with to feel that their opinion is needed. You need for them to be understanding, not only of your message, but of you as well.
One of the next steps, and a very important one, is to encourage feedback. How? Don't ask yes and no questions! Ask intelligent, well conceived, open end questions. Give people something to do. Force them to think and return intelligent answers. What do you plan to do?
What is the best method of making something stick in someone's mind? Repetition! Studies show that people have four times more recall when two methods of communication are used. Talk to them at a meeting, then put it in writing, and perhaps follow up with a telephone call. Our staff is good at this, and it has really been a great help to me personally during my first year as a commissioner. When a new program is to be initiated, the staff immediately sends a news release to the commissioners so that they are abreast of all developments. Our staff are constantly in touch with each other to keep all departments informed of problems, new ideas, and their own progress. Staff meetings are held weekly, and on Saturday morning, the general manager submits his report to the Commissioners which usually includes information from all departments in the District.
The general feeling of communication must be reinforced by everyone in the District. We of the Champaign Park District expect all those connected with it to feel that each one speaks for the others. We take great pride in our teamwork approach to problem solving as well as the operation of our parks and programs. All programs are evaluated on a regular basis in order to insure maximum success.
Your staff is the key to overall success in your community. Operate as a team. Be sure they are totally informed of the direction the District is heading. An informed staff enables all systems to function effectively and promotes professionalism. Communicate!
Illinois Parks and Recreation 6 September/October. 1970
An Illinois White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals will be held October 16-17 at Chicago's McCormick Inn.
The Illinois state conference will precede the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals slated for May 1977 and parallels similar conferences to be held in each state this year.
The purpose of the state and national conferences is three-fold:
According to Dr. Silas Singh, state director of White House Conference activities, "We are seeking the widest possible participation of handicapped individuals, parents, providers of services to the handicapped and other interested citizens and to formulate recommendations for national legislation and action."
Discussion topics include: housing, education, rehabilitation, employment, transportation, recreation, health care, accessibility, civil rights, institutionalization, communication, handicapped minorities and aged persons, disabled veterans, research, prevention and public attitudes toward the handicapped. For more information contact: White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, 160 N.
"Handicapped persons are also dis-advantaged in obtaining equal educational and employment opportunities taken for granted by other American citizens," Dr. Singh said. "Above all, public attitudes and awareness of handicapped individuals' potential contribution leave much to be desired," he said.
Dr. Singh hoped that the White House Conference and the various preparatory state conferences would be "an important first step in granting full status and opportunity to handicapped individuals."
In addition to recommendations for the White House Conference, the agenda of the October meeting in Chicago will include designation of 16 state delegates and 16 observers.
Dr. Singh was appointed state director of Illinois White House Conference activities in early January by Governor Dan Walker and also serves as the full-time executive director of the Governor's Committee on the Handicapped.
Illinois Parks and Recreation 7 September/October, 1976