Brooke Taflinger gets up every morning knowing she is the last line of defense in the war against exclusion. Her mission each day is to figure out how to reach out and include everyone regardless of physical or mental challenges. Brooke Taflinger is the “You can do it, I know you can” expert for Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation. In 2012, her expertise and attitude have helped 225 families and brought statewide recognition to Carmel.
As Inclusion Supervisor for the Parks Department, Brooke looks to adapt programs to allow everyone to participate regardless of ability. Because of her unique skills, parent Catherine Pallotta nominated Brooke for the 2012 Excellence Award for Autism. The Autism Society recognizes advocators and business professionals who help raise awareness. At its annual awards banquet, Brooke will accept her honor, giving confirmation that she is on the right track and her work is appreciated.
Brooke said, “The simple fact that a parent took the time to write out an essay and complete an application about me, the Monon Community Center and the adaptive programs here makes me feel so honored and humbled. My hope is that with this award we can draw even more attention to the adaptive programs and be able to serve more families and individuals who are on the autism spectrum. Receiving this award is one of my greatest accomplishments and I just feel so blessed that others appreciate what I do and are on board with the direction of the program.”
Prior to Brooke joining the Department, families with special needs were clearly underserved. Carmel Clay Parks Director, Mark Westermeier says, “This program sets us apart and including everyone is a primary goal for our organization. We advocate participation by all individuals and make every effort to adapt to their ability.” Point well taken, as only 4 years ago the number of families requiring special adaptations to participate in Carmel Parks programs numbered ten. Now hundreds of families from across central Indiana enjoy over 121 different programs which cater to their leisure needs and interests. Over 95 families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder participate in Carmel’s programs regularly.
Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation now maintains over 500 park acres and numerous recreation facilities including the Monon Recreation Center. Rest assured Brooke Taflinger is paying attention and making sure everyone has the ability to enjoy them.