Henrico earns Virginia Association of Counties awards for 4 programs

Henrico County’s general government and Henrico County Public Schools earned awards from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) for four programs, including ones to assist individuals who are experiencing age-related memory loss.

With its four awards, Henrico led all localities in VACo’s 2019 Achievement Awards competition. Overall, 26 programs were recognized from 96 entries submitted by member counties across the state. The winners of VACo’s 17th awards competition will be honored at Board of Supervisors meetings and during the association’s annual conference in November.

“The employees of Henrico County’s general government and Henrico County Public Schools provide outstanding and innovative programs and services to our residents every single day,” Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “This work adapts to changing needs of the community and is part of what makes Henrico such a special place to live, work and play. I join the Virginia Association of Counties in applauding the amazing work that counties are providing throughout the Commonwealth and salute their commitment to public service.”

Henrico was honored for its Caregiver Kits initiative, which helps individuals who are experiencing memory loss or dementia-related illness connect with family members and friends. The kits, which are available for checkout from the Henrico County Public Library, include books with vibrant photographs, DVDs of classic movies or television shows, music CDs as well as prompts to encourage discussion with caregivers and loved ones. Each kit has a theme, such as local history, cooking or pets, to help individuals recall meaningful moments from their lives.

Henrico also was recognized for its Life Enrichment Program for those aging with developmental disabilities. Established in 1985, the program was designed to support individuals who have high personal-care needs and who want to learn about and engage with the community. The program was adapted in 2016 to help individuals age in place by providing services that focus on addressing their physiological and psychological changes.

Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) earned an award for SNAPS, a summer program launched in 2017 to strengthen the social skills of students with high-functioning autism. SNAPS, which stands for Students Navigating Appropriate Peer Socialization, provides an autism teacher, an instructional assistant and a speech pathologist to help students practice social skills in the classroom and during real-world opportunities with peers.

HCPS also was recognized for its Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day, which celebrates high school students who have completed a career and technical education program and are offered positions in the workforce. The event, first held in March 2018, emulates ceremonies that honor high school athletes who sign letters-of-intent to play for NCAA programs. In the Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day, students and representatives of their future employers sign symbolic letters of agreement as families and members of news media look on. The event has been replicated by school systems nationwide.

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