Professor promotes recreation


Howard At Play

March 19, 2000|By Lowell E. Sunderland

Name: Willa Brooks

Job description: Chair of the eight-member Howard County Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, which represents the public in advising the county rec and parks agency. (It does not decide policy.) Brooks is in her second term, eighth year, in the volunteer job ("I just sent in my resume"), and has been chair for the past five years. Appointed by the county executive, she is the only board member with formal recreation training.

Age: 50

Residence: Between Ellicott City and Glenelg. Columbia resident, 1974-97.

Personal: Born in Silver Spring. Majored in recreation at University of Maryland, College Park, has master's degree from Maryland, doctorate from Temple University, same subject. CCBC-Catonsville faculty member ("my only full-time job") for 29 years; heads Department of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies. Also vice president, Howard County Tourism Council. Helped write mission for Baltimore's Police Athletic League program under former police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier; trained officers to teach crafts, puppetry, dance and other forms of recreation besides sports. Elected to Howard County Women's Hall of Fame for volunteer work.

Best part of job: "The opportunity to use my knowledge in the recreation field -- not limited to just sports, or parks, or facilities for children, or for adults, or seniors. Because I like to work in the community, I'm probably one of the least ivory tower-like professors around."

What the county needs: "A free public recreation department -- call it leisure services, if you will, just like police, fire, library -- should be a right for all in Howard County. But we have a problem with NIMBYs; people want services such as fields and lighted facilities, but not near them. We're way behind in some things, like park development, no nature center, only one recreation center, too few senior programs, fields and indoor sports facilities, and public golf courses that can accomplish things for many, such as youth, seniors, the disabled, that private courses can't or don't want to do. Plus, our Recreation and Parks Department has to raise about 70 percent of its money. That's not right. No other agency has to come near that."

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