As Hillsborough Parks & Rec. maintains social distancing, frequent meetings online are made to ensure connectivity with the community.

By Jadon Khor

As patrons leave parks and libraries unoccupied, in line with social distancing, Hillsborough County has worked overtime for the upcoming summertime to stay active in the community and at home.

Gone are the days of meetups in recreational parks and playgrounds, now are the days of digital hunts and challenges for the Hillsborough Parks & Recreation Department. As COVID-19 interrupts traditional, physical location meetings, the Parks & Rec. Department has made sure to move and categorize its summer events into four distinct sections: Get Active, Get Connected, Get Adaptive and Get Creative.

Accessible through the Hillsborough County website, virtual recreation comes as a certainly interesting change to the Parks & Rec. team, said Media Relations Representative Dana McDonald.

Given the social nature of the Parks & Rec. team, McDonald said it was disappointing moving online because they “love being with people” and having one-on-one sessions, but they still understand the whole goal is to get people interested in the parks and recreational activities they offer. Nonetheless, they are happy they can still offer something for everyone.

In the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, online participation and safety have also become the priority. Learning Experiences Manager Matthew David said that as libraries move forwards, it hopes to maintain the same level of engagement and learning as previous years.

In fact, he said, thanks to the flexibility of the online format, Hillsborough libraries are more able to expand proportionately for adults and focus on older community members, whose tastes in entertainment might vary from younger age groups.

Another main focus of the Library Cooperative was to ensure that its activities and recreational programs were easy to access on its website, resulting in an elimination of the need for library cards online. Instead, patrons will only need to register with a name and email.

Despite disappointments among community members about cancelations of their favorite pastimes from previous years, there are a plethora of enjoyable events for Hillsborough’s online programs this year. A few of such programs David emphasized were its event for adults, ‘Creating A Powerful Presence With LinkedIn,’ to help those who need to polish up their resumes and job market skills, and reading campaigns on beanstalk.com for tracking one’s reading achievements.

“My favorite is Get Creative,” said McDonald. “It’s really just a way for people to stay active at home. The projects are really fun to do.” Projects include a pen pal program, where children can write to seniors about their week and the activity they completed for them.

Though COVID-19 has shuttered the doors to many summer pastimes in Hillsborough parks and libraries, there are no doubt still magnetic activities to be had on the web.

Visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org to learn more.