Penticton recreation programmer earns fitting tribute

City recreation staffer Bob Pope was recognized recently for his outstanding programming work which has earned him international attention.

Recreation programmer Bob Pope of Penticton receives the award of merit from president Leslie June of the BC Recreation and Parks Association during a recent ceremony in Richmond.

Recreation programmer Bob Pope of Penticton receives the award of merit from president Leslie June of the BC Recreation and Parks Association during a recent ceremony in Richmond.

City recreation staffer Bob Pope was recognized recently for his outstanding programming work which has earned him international attention.

The award of merit from the BC Recreation and Parks Association is for his more than 20 years of dedicated service to the advancement of the recreation profession.

According to association executive officer Suzanne Allard Strutt, the longtime municipal employee has proven time and again to be a successful motivator, resulting in increased participation far beyond local borders.

“This (award) really means a lot,” said Pope this week. “It’s not a nine-to-five job and I’ve never done what I’ve done for the job, it’s for the people and the love of what I do.

“What really hits home is seeing the outcome (of the programs), that it can impact people in a way that can actually change lives.”

Specific initiatives he’s been responsible for include the annual international Children’s Festival, which no community of this size in North American has, the Penticton Steps Out walking program and lecture series, both of which have had thousands of registrants during the course of their existence.

“The stepping program rose to heights we could never imagine, being picked up as the Olympic 2010 goal of having people get 20 per cent more physically fit by 2010,” said Pope. “For me it’s always been about going for the dreams, it’s a wonderful field.”

The programmer’s skills have not gone unnoticed south of the border and he was recently invited to participate in Washington Recreation and Park and National Recreation and Park association events.

The latter included a webinar  — a web-based seminar — broadcast across the U.S. on “letting walking be your vehicle.”

True to form, however, the city programmer is quick to share the success with his colleagues, especially the front office staff: “I couldn’t have done it without them. This was really a team effort.”

The one person he did single out was his wife Lynda.

“She has been really understanding because this has not been a shut off the job when you go home kind of thing,” he said. “But this award has actually meant way more than I imagined and it’s given me a shot in the arm to keep going for another 20 years.”

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton described the city employee as a very dedicated individual with a huge commitment to the residents of the city and outside the region who use the local facilities and programs.

“Bob’s ideas are innovative and this type of recognition is not only well deserved but it also shows the quality of life that Penticton represents. “Again my hat’s off to Bob and the rest of the recreation staff for the work that they do.

“There are a lot of people who utilize the opportunities Bob and the others present to make Penticton a healthier place to be and they do a really good job at it.”