Introducing the Panelist for the Open for All Workshop!

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Join North Carolina State University Tourism Extension and Recreation Resources Service on Friday, December 3rd, for a virtual workshop entitled “Open for All: Communicating Your Accessible Opportunities.” December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this workshop is an effort to bring more awareness of how tourism, parks, events and communities can be more inclusive destinations available to people with disabilities or special needs. Registration information can be found here:

A mural at the free expression tunnel showing wolf howling in front of the bell tower and NC State scenery with the words respect the pack, equity and inclusion. Photo by Marc Hall

A respect the pack, equity and inclusion mural at the free expression tunnel. Photo by Marc Hall

The workshop will include a panel discussion with panelist sharing their experiences in tourism, events, and parks and recreation. Panelist include:

Sarah Ray is the Public Information Officer at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, a dynamic campus bringing citizens from all parts of the state and all walks of life together to participate in a wide variety of activities, including the NC State Fair. Her responsibilities of public relations, creative brand development, and strategic partnerships put her in a position to play a vital role in developing the NC State Fair accessABILITY Day in 2021. The NC State Fair draws one million attendees over 11 days annually. Ray said the ability to find a sponsor invested in making this event happen helped them answer the call from many families and citizens wanting to come and enjoy the fair but unable. Special programming included ASL interpreters, special livestock shows, universal changing table, noise-canceling headphones, a chill-out zone, a time for rides, vendors, and games to operate with no lights or music, to list a few. Ray says of the planning for the day, “we know we can’t be everything to everyone, but we also knew we could be something to someone!”

Alison Brooks is the Director of Destination Experience and Advocacy for Visit Mesa. Visit Mesa was the first Autism Certified City, and Brooks is a Certified Autism Travel Professional. Her priority is advancing Visit Mesa’s position as a critical economic development agency for Mesa and the East Valley, with a strong focus on industry research and advocacy. In addition, Visit Mesa’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion falls under Brooks, who spearheads these initiatives within the hospitality community.

Laurel Heizelman is the new Manager at the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. She joins the department after working for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department in both an adaptive recreation facility, McBeth Recreation Center, and with the Inclusion Unit. Laurel is passionate about inclusion in community recreation and worked hard to expand inclusion support services in Austin, TX. She has been a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) for over a decade and became a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) in 2019.

Jamie Botinovch is an advocate of both parks and recreation and inclusion. Previously Botinovch worked for the Town of Swansboro Parks and Recreation Department as Program Coordinator and now serves on the advisory board for the department. Additionally, Botinovch serves as Treasurer for Friends of the Hammocks and Bear Island Group. While working as Program Coordinator, Botinovch started two programs. The first program was a resource fair connecting residents with providers offering adaptive recreation and accessible tourism experiences. The other program she still holds is a once-a-month social workshop developed for adults with special needs but is open and free for anyone to attend.

Text on a blue background reads: Open for All: Communicating Your Accessible Opportunities. Parks and destinations have a variety of accessible options for people with varying abilities and special needs yet the messaging, promotion and development of these opportunities are often lacking. This workshop is designed as a starting point for developing easily accessible, inclusive information for those planning visits to parks and destinations. Date: December 3, 2021. Time: 1:30 - 5 p.m. Image 1: child in wheelchair being pushed by adult up ramp on a playground. Image 2: ramp to a cabin over a river. Image 3: cyclist in a recumbent bike on a greenway. Text For more information and how to register please visit: Or email Logos NC State Extension, Recreation Resources Service, Tourism Extension, Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management


We hope you find time to attend this workshop, and you can find more information on our keynote speaker Brett Heising here.