Two new professionals have joined the staff of the Bedford Recreation Department.
Alexandra Plodzik is the department’s first therapeutic recreation specialist and Brendan McEvoy is the new director of the Kids Club school-age child-care program. Also, long-time staff member Nikki Taylor has been promoted to assistant director.
Recreation Director Josh Smith said the department is “set up with staffing to meet the needs of the town and its residents.”
Plodzik said her role focuses primarily on children “who may require some extra assistance. I meet with parents, talk about how we can integrate programs and create more adaptive programs specifically for kids with disabilities, and eventually for adults. We are trying to create safe space for kids who might not be comfortable.”
Smith said that in a previous discussion of staffing needs, “One of the key points was about inclusion, from a recreation standpoint having as many kids involved in programs as possible. The need kept growing and we needed to find the expertise on how to implement ways for kids to be involved.”
Taylor noted that the department was approached by the schools’ Special Education Parents Advisory Council. Feedback like that, “and what we were seeing in our programming, definitely meant we needed an expert,” Smith said. The position was posted last summer and “we had a robust application response.”
Plodzik is from Blackstone, on the Rhode Island border. She received degrees in recreation policy and management and therapeutic recreation from the University of New Hampshire in 2018. She worked as an intern at Crotched Mountain School in Greenfield, NH, working with children and adults in an adaptive sports program. Most recently she was a recreational therapist in the developmental services unit at Tewksbury State Hospital.
McEvoy, who is from Kingston, NY, said he worked in summer camps as a high school student. He earned a degree in physical education at Salem State College and was a recreation director for about 10 years with the YMCA in Gloucester, serving some 500 kids on Cape Ann as well as Marblehead and Swampscott.
McEvoy succeeds School Committee Chair Dan Brosgol, now executive director of Temple Shir Tikvah in Wayland.
Smith pointed out that McEvoy’s experience managing multiple sites is a plus, as Kids’ Club, which currently services 360 children in kindergarten through fifth grade, is based at the Town Center with a branch operation at Lane School.
Plodzik and McEvoy are “off to a terrific start,” said Smith. He noted that “they talk daily about kids in our programs, because there are many kids with levels of need in Kids’ Club.”
Taylor helped staff the Springs Borok Park snack bar more than 20 years ago. The 2003 Bedford High School graduate received a degree from Merrimack College four years later. A former Springs Brook director for several years, she joined the department full-time in 2014 as program coordinator.
“Nikki still coordinates all of the youth programs, from soccer to STEM, and also incorporates managing the field schedules,” Smith said. The promotion “recognizes all of the work Nikki does, and how instrumental she is to recreation operation,” Smith said.
“When I look at the entire operation, everyone is people-first and wants to communicate,” the director continued. He noted that the new winter brochure features more than 70 pages of programming, and “our department is also involved with larger capital projects.”