Parks and Recreation Ontario Awards 

The Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) Awards program recognizes and honours individuals and organizations by highlighting outstanding innovations and achievements that contribute to the advancement of the parks and recreation sector.

2024 Awards of Excellence

Nominations for 2024 have now closed. Please check back for 2025.

Award Descriptions

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Award 
The IDEA Award recognizes individuals and organizations that champion equitable access to parks and recreation services through advocacy, infrastructure, and/or programming. Award recipients have demonstrated the provision of improved and on-going access for equity-deserving groups.

Innovation Award 
The Innovation Award recognizes the contributions of high-performing individuals, teams, and organizations in developing innovative or unique approaches to efficiently and effectively meeting a community’s needs. This can include programming, special events, marketing, evaluation, customer service, and/or human resource management.

Facility Design Award
This award is presented for completed projects that demonstrate excellence in design of facilities intended for public use. The facility must showcase uniqueness, innovation, and creativity for recreation use. Award applicants must demonstrate that they engaged in public consultation to determine the scope of the project and how the project was able to meet their community’s needs. Eligible projects include new builds and retrofits.

Research and Creative Activity Award                                                                        
This award recognizes and encourages excellence in academic research that is impactful to the parks and recreation sector. This will include published works but may also comprise other forms of scholarly output or research-related knowledge mobilization. Nominations may be based on a long record of research/scholarly productivity, a recent publication of particularly high quality, recent receipt of significant research funding, or other meritorious achievement. Nominees may be individuals or research teams.

Emerging Leader Award
This award recognizes the outstanding achievements and accomplishments of a professional in the early stages of their career as a leader, instructor, coordinator, supervisor, administrator, consultant, or a combination of these in the field of parks and recreation. Applicants must have between five and ten years of full-time employment in the sector and may apply at any stage in life.

HIGH FIVE® Champion – Individual
The HIGH FIVE® Champion Award is presented to an individual who has shown exceptional dedication to the HIGH FIVE principles in their organization. It recognizes the work done by the individual to support implementation and honours their commitment to ensuring the well-being of children. Applications should demonstrate the achievements of the individual in all four areas of the HIGH FIVE® framework: training and development; program assessment; policies and procedures; and awareness.

HIGH FIVE® Champion – Organization
The HIGH FIVE® Champion Award recognizes organizations that are implementing the HIGH FIVE® Quality Standard in a unique and innovative way. The Award honours their dedication to children’s health and their efforts to ensure quality programming. Applications and nominations should demonstrate how HIGH FIVE® has been implemented at all levels of the organization, demonstrating a cultural shift and child-focused approach to developing and delivering children’s programs.


Bob Secord Leadership Award (Student)
Established in honour of the late Bob Secord, known to the sector as “Mr. Recreation,” PRO recognizes one college and one university student enrolled in their final year of full-time or part-time study in a recreation-related program. Recipients will have demonstrated positive attributes and leadership skills in the parks and recreation sector through their academic, employment, and voluntary pursuits. Recipients will receive a complimentary registration to the 2024 PRO Expedition and Trade Show and a one-year PRO membership. NOTE: To be considered for this award, students must be nominated by a placement supervisor or faculty member.

Bursary & Grant Awards

Hugh Clydesdale Bursary 
This annual monetary bursary is awarded to a promising parks and recreation post-secondary, graduate student OR practitioner in Ontario who identities as female, to support the pursuit of professional development or education. This bursary is funded by the City of Toronto: Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division. 

Aquatic Legacy Grant
This grant provides financial assistance for registration and accommodation costs for one aquatics professional to attend the 2024 PRO Expedition and Trade Show. It is designed to assist someone who, due to financial limitations, would not otherwise be able to attend the Conference. Applicants must:
• Have a current PRO Membership
• Hold a full-time position in aquatics
• Demonstrate their need for financial assistance
• Demonstrate their interest in learning
• Attend the full 2024 PRO Expedition and Trade Show
• Write an article for the PRO NewsBrief (post-event) outlining their unique learnings and how they plan to apply them