It’s hard to imagine that in nine months’ time, a vacant lot in the Dutch Kills area of Queens was transformed into a lively community garden to enjoy nature, promote healthy living, and engage local youth. Soon after being licensed and registered as a GreenThumb community garden, Windmill Community Garden’s development was set into high-gear with the help of the 2016 Disney Parks Build Community program.
As a graduate from art school, and someone who was previously known for avoiding bugs at all costs, I never imagined myself as a leader in the nature-based Wildlife Explorers program. However, my perception and willingness to engage with the natural world has dramatically changed since the beginning of my employment about two and a half years ago at the Carrie Murray Nature Center, under Baltimore City Recreation and Parks.
"Please send me kids that can share my garden with the community," prayed Dana Caley as she stood on the soil that had previously not been successful as a community garden. Quincy Teen REACH was the answer to her prayer--a partnership which resulted in at-risk kids becoming gardeners and Dana's harvest being more than vegetables.
Bounce houses and balloon animals. Popcorn and painted faces. While this fair offered the traditional activities anyone would expect, what made our first Commit to Health Fair extra special was all the OTHER options available to the guests. The focus on healthy choices and physical activity was clear from the moment the doors opened until the last guest left.
Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks’ Therapeutic Recreation Division has continued to expand its strong partnership with Special Olympics Maryland. This partnership has allowed the Special Olympics program in Baltimore City to increase the number of athletes participating in community based programming and in programming geared toward individuals in day care programs.
The Park District of Forest Park decided to implement the Walk with Ease (WWE) program to give their residents the opportunity to better their health through a structured program. Walk with Ease is an evidence-based, six-week exercise program developed by the Arthritis Foundation and designed and proven to reduce arthritic pain and improve overall health.
The City of Atlanta was a recipient of the Troops for Fitness grant program supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association. Troops for Fitness provides funding to local park and recreation organizations to help inspire healthy, active lifestyles by training and employing military veterans to instruct community fitness and nutrition classes at local park and recreation agencies.
Elected officials and community leaders gathered a few weeks ago in a warm spring rain to celebrate Oregon’s immigrant cultures and welcome new refugee families. “Can you imagine what it means to leave your homes, schools, jobs, pets and loved lands without your fault?” asked Som Nath Subedi, Program coordinator for Parks for New Portlanders, which hosted the event at Bloomington Park.
The City of Fontana and the Fontana Unified School District has created opportunities for stakeholders in the community to collaborate to improve community services. One success story is being able to provide summer meals to youth (through the Summer Food Service Program) while being able to create and provide recreational opportunities that unite parties together.