NRPA collaborated with The Walt Disney Company, including Disney Citizenship, Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN, during Earth Month to expand the Meet Me at the Park initiative by providing 16 communities with resources to improve local parks through projects that connect kids to nature, inspire healthy living, and increase kids’ access to sports.
Throughout April 2017, the public was invited to nominate their city anywhere across the United States for a chance to win $20,000, as well as, vote on park improvement projects in 15 designated communities to help determine which projects also received $20,000. Check out the winners below and see the total collective impact that was made!
- 325,370 total people impacted by Meet Me at the Park projects
- 161,449 people connected with nature
- 125,935 people have improved access to healthy food
- 175,848 people have improved access to physical activity
- 32,926 people have improved access to sports
- 554 volunteers helped bring these projects to life
Designated City Project Winners
City of Fresno Parks connected kids to nature, inspired healthy living and increased kid’s access to sports by implementing three summer science camp programs held at the Highway City Community Science Center and one culminating event. The programs provided students the opportunity to explore hands-on science, life and environmental skills. Students engaged in physical activities such as basketball, hiking, canoeing, fishing, and swimming.
California: Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks connected people to nature by restoring South Los Angeles Wetlands Park with nature signage and planting a total of 1.07 acres of newly planted areas. This included 207 cubic yards of mulch, 1200 gallons of grass, 100 gallons of sage, 15 vines, and 10 trees.
California: San Francisco
San Francisco Recreation and Parks connected kids to nature andinspired healthy living through trail restoration as part of the Greenagers Program. The program helps kids gain appreciation for urban nature and natural history and the role that parks and recreation centers play in the health and well-being of their communities and beyond; develop leadership skills and learn important lessons about teamwork and strong work ethic; learn to work constructively with a wide range of people; and serve as catalysts for community stewardship for parks and outdoor recreation. The McLaren Park trail project helped Greenagers achieve these goals because they engaged with members of the community to complete a nature trail project which improves safety and provides access to natural areas for the community.
Hartford Parks and Recreation Department connected kids to nature, inspired healthy living and increased kid’s access to sports through the project W.A.T.E.R. (Water Activities Touches Everyone's Road) which combines the American Red Cross's Lifeguard Certification Program with nature activities such as canoeing and fishing. Participants earned the ARC Lifeguard certificate, which will allow them to become eligible for future employment as a certified lifeguard.
Florida: Brevard County
Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department connected kids to nature at the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary bybuilding three mini viewing platforms approximately 4-5 feet high and renovating one viewing tower approximately 12-16 feet high to allow children of all ages to experience and enjoy wildlife.
Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces inspired healthy living by developing and planting a community fruit and vegetable garden in Gwen Cherry Park, located near the underserved communities of Gladeview and Liberty City. This garden will provide residents with access to healthy food options that are either not obtainable or not available in their community.
City of Orlando Parks inspired healthy living through installation of four outdoor fitness stations at the side of one of the main walking trails at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake. The equipment was placed in a “pod” configuration, grouped in one location for ease of use and maintenance, and has safety mulch underneath to help prevent injury. An ADA accessible sidewalk connects the fitness pod with one of the ADA accessible trails. A portion of the fitness equipment is ADA compliant also.
Chicago Park District connected kids to nature and inspired healthy living by creating a space for nature in the city at Welles Park. This nature play space replaced a former playground and is a wild place, full of hidden nooks, climbing challenges and buzzing wildlife.
New York: New York
New York City Department of Parks and Recreation connected kids to nature and inspired healthy living by revitalizing an underutilized community garden, Green Patch, in a historically underserved part of the City. Outcomes included installing longer-lasting raised beds for growing healthy food; planting native and pollinator plants; installing a welcoming message board along with informational signage about conservation projects; bringing in more soil and mulch; installing a patio, shed, shade structure, and rainwater harvesting system; installing an outdoor library stand and filling it with gardening books for children of different ages and languages; providing gardening supplies; installing more seating; and hosting the community garden’s first-ever family event.
North Carolina: Charlotte
Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department connected kids to nature and inspired healthy living through the creation of ten learning gardens consisting of pollinator, vegetable and ozone gardens at recreation centers throughout the county. These gardens will be used to teach the community the benefits of eating fresh foods, the importance of gardening for wildlife and the impacts gardening has on the environment. The food and education provided by these gardens will help to combat childhood obesity, supply fruit and vegetables in food desserts and protect the environment.
North Carolina: Durham
Durham Parks and Recreation Department increased kid’s access to sports and inspired healthy living at Walltown Park by resurfacing a basketball court and installing new basketball goals and horseshoe pits. In addition, some cleanup and painting was completed to beautify the park.
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation inspired healthy living and increased kid’s access to sports by revitalizing the Philly Pump Track. Security fencing was installed to alleviate a theft issue. As a result, more bike equipment was purchased for use. SoilTac was laid on the track to improve the track surface. This soil has decreased the amount of drying and repair time on the track after bad weather thus allowing for the track to reopen quicker to users.
Austin Parks and Recreation Department connected kids to nature and inspired healthy living by creating an outdoor learning environment and nature play opportunities at Kealing School Park. The work included the installation of a 500 sq. ft. learning space, a 1,000 sq. ft. rain garden and 2,500 sq. ft. wildflower meadow. Together these spaces create an outdoor learning environment for the adjacent middle school's earth science programs. When the spaces are not being used by classrooms, the local community can utilize the nature play opportunities.
Houston Parks and Recreation Department inspired healthy living and increased kid’s access to sports by upgrading two tennis courts with new fencing at Oak Forest Park, which offers free children's tennis lessons and open play throughout the year.
Seattle Parks and Recreation connected kids to nature and inspired healthy living by restoring a vital environmental education connection trail at Carkeek Park. Project activities included surveying the new route for the trail, obtaining permits and permissions, clearing the trail corridor, grubbing out the new trail bed, installing erosion controls and site management, installing slope stabilization structures, building up the trail bed, surfacing the trail, installing steps and re-planting the area. With this improved and sustainable access, more youth will be able to visit the park and engage in recreation and environmental education.
Write-In City Winner
Texas: McAllen: McAllen Nature Center
City of McAllen Parks & Recreation connected kids to nature and inspired healthy living by building a nature play area to increase access to outdoor play and aid in physical activity. A 50-foot-long slide will be installed on a 25-foot hill as well as additional play elements to provide access to nature play and exercise.