To make a career out of working and inspiring children, there are two traits that are likely to come in very handy: a passion for making a difference in young people’s lives and a boundless amount of energy.
For the past three decades, Kingsport Parks and Recreation’s Travis Sensabaugh has proven himself to be the model for both of these traits, as he has built his career bringing joy to kids in Kingsport.
“I like to think that I know what kids like… I’m sort of a big kid myself,” says Travis.
Travis is the Parks and Recreation program administrator. This means that he, along with colleagues Renee Ensor and Kenny Lawson, oversees all the planning, creation and execution of the many events that Kingsport Parks and Rec hosts.
“We oversee more than a dozen facilities, have open gym hours every day and multiple special programs every week, so it’s definitely a lot to keep up with,” says Travis.
The recent special events Travis has particularly enjoyed are the ‘Glow’ events held in the gym at V.O. Dobbins. These are primarily sports nights for kids where the gymnasium is filled with blacklights and glowing decorations. There has been kickball, dodgeball, basketball, and many more ‘Glow’ nights, with his favorite being the ‘Glow Nerf’ event, where over 250 kids showed up to play. He appreciates that his job requires him to be creative and think of new and exciting ways to get young people active.
Prior to coming to the Parks and Rec department, he spent more than 20 years working in the Kingsport City School system. He spent time at both Dobyns-Bennett High School and Andrew Jackson Elementary, working first as a special needs teaching assistant and then as a behavior support specialist.
During his time in the schools, Travis spent every summer working as a summer camp counselor for Parks and Rec, so when he saw that they were hiring for a full-time administrator position, applying was a no-brainer.
“I loved working at schools and being able to make an impact on those kids and their communities,” says Travis, “but I felt like working for Parks and Recreation, I had the chance to impact kids from across our whole city.”
This summer will be Travis’s 29th year working as a camp counselor at Kingsport Parks and Recreation. He stresses the importance of this program as a way for parents to ensure that their child is safe while school is out, and for kids to be active and social with other kids across the city.
“It’s great to spend the summer having fun and giving kids the opportunity to do things they might not be able to do elsewhere.”
Travis states his career goal is to have a positive impact on his community. Above all else, he values the relationships he has built with kids as a camp counselor and educator.
“There are so many kids that could really use a positive adult role model in their lives, and I try to do what I can to be that for them.”