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Recreation Employees Make a Difference

Humbled by the difference he has made in the lives of Portland children -- and those who are young at heart -- Andre Ashley continues to advocate for programs that encourage physical activity and recreation in communities.

It is a great honor to be recognized on a National level by being selected as a White House Champion of Change. This honor has caught me by surprise, I enjoy the opportunity to give young people an outlet for an active lifestyle, and love the city of Portland in which I help provide these services.

As a youth growing up in Portland, Oregon, I always participated in various Parks and Recreation programs. I received a great personal experience that was fun. Also, I was able to learn from and work with my role models who started these programs in my neighborhood. I learned to swim at Buckman Pool in Southeast Portland, held my first tennis racket at the Portland Tennis Center in Northeast Portland, and improved my basketball skills in the Goldenball Basketball program at Matt Dishman Community Center.

As a young man, I had a great respect for Recreation employees and volunteers who spent countless hours of their time developing recreational programs and instruction to youth. I knew I wanted to give back to the community and provide youth of today the same opportunities the previous generation provided for me. As the Sports Management Supervisor for Portland Parks and Recreation, my job is more than a title. Recreation and physical activity play a huge role in the lives of many Americans. It helps build self esteem, create diversity, manage stress and well-being, deters crime, and offers a place for healthy interaction. The benefits are endless. It is a personal investment into the lives of thousands of kids who participate in youth sports in the City of Portland.

In my 18 years of service, I have developed many partnerships with multiple organizations and sports groups. I collaborate with them to build synergy, and create innovative new programs that meet the needs of Portland citizens. I plan, organize, and manage citywide athletic programs with a valiant staff and volunteers of approximately 500 people. Although I am the one receiving this recognition for my achievements, I must in turn recognize the people who help make these programs a success.

Andre Ashley is the Sports Management Supervisor for Portland Parks & Recreation, where he works with the many users of the area's fields to ensure access for sports of all kinds and athletes of all ages.