The IPRA Diversity Leadership Task Force is accepting applications to host Safe Zone Conversations (SZC) on the topics of racism and LGBTQ+. Click on the link below to complete an application, and IPRA will contact you with 1-2 business days to discuss the next step in setting up your event. Host agencies are asked to make a donation in the amount of their choice to the Illinois Park and Recreation Foundation Diversity Education Fund, which will help fund future educational programs and events that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. For questions, contact IPRA Executive Director Debbie Trueblood at
Application to Host a Safe Zone Conversation

What is a Safe Zone Conversation?
A Safe Zone Conversation (SZC) is defined as dialogue amongst a group of people purposely engineered to discuss human topics that can be deemed sensitive, uncomfortable, or complex in nature. It is an environment of mutual respect and inclusivity, a safe place for people to speak their minds. All comments and questions are welcomed. No judgements.

What Do You Talk About?
Currently, Safe Zone Conversations are designed to discuss racism and LGBTQ+ matters. Applicants must select one topic when applying to host an event. Additional topics are expected to be unveiled in the future. 

Who Leads the Discussion?
Safe Zone Conversations are generously facilitated by members of IPRA's Diversity Leadership Task Force, or individuals specifically trained and approved by the group. Each event has a lead and supportive facilitators for large and small group discussions.

How Does It Work and Why Should I Host?
Each SZC has a lead facilitator that coordinates introductions and presents a grounding question about a specific topic. Each participant shares their response to the question with the group, which allows time to get more acclimated with the topic. From there, participants are broken down into smaller groups where supporting facilitators lead more specific discussions about the same topic. Each event concludes with a debriefing with the entire group. The Safe Zone Conversation platform promotes safe and purposeful conversation that might otherwise not take place in the workplace because people are uncertain of how to start the conversation, fearful of offending others or how they might respond, uncomfortable talking about the topic, or simply don't understand what needs to be discussed.

How Many People Participate and How Long is It?
For the best interaction, it is recommended the ratio of facilitators to participants is 1:5, but as high as 1:10 is also acceptable. Depending on the size of the group and level of engagement, events typically last anywhere from 90-180 minutes.

What Does It Cost and Who Has Hosted a SZC?
This service is available in exchange for a donation to the Illinois Park and Recreation Foundation to further support diversity, equity, and inclusion education. IPRA will invoice the applicant after scheduling an event. Participants in 2020 include the Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA), Glenview Park District, Lincoln-Way Special Recreation Association (LWSRA), Palatine Park District, South Suburban Park & Recreation Professional Association (SSPRPA), Downers Grove Park District, South Suburban Special Recreation Association (SSSRA), and the Legislative Awareness Committee in IPRA's Therapeutic Recreation (TR) Section.

What Happens Afterwards?
Applicants can choose to do one or multiple Safe Zone Conversations. Subsequent events can be with or without the IPRA Diversity Leadership Taskforce volunteers, whichever the applicant prefers. Resources will be provided for further individual and group exploration. 

"The Glenview Park District just held a Safe Zone Conversation with our full-time staff where 41 employees participated via Zoom. It was truly inspiring and moving to share and learn as a team in a brave and safe space. It provided a starting point for continued individual reflection, team equity, and inclusion and organizational transformation. I would encourage my fellow leaders to not overlook the importance of this opportunity for your team and schedule especially during these challenging times."   -Michael McCarty, Executive Director, Glenview Park District

“The safe talks I have attended at NWSRA have been eye opening. I think that I am lucky enough to work in an environment that strives for inclusion, so I don’t always realize the struggles that are out there. Not everyone works and lives in an environment that is as inclusive as the environment I am a part of. It is good to have reminders of different environments, so that you can keep up with trends and changes. These safe talks exposed me to conversations and realities I have not experienced before. I feel more educated and aware that my education in different culture, believes, and communities should continue and evolve.”  - Trisha Palmieri, CPRP, CTRS, QIDP, DSP, PATH, Collaboratives Coordinator, NWSRA