Parent volunteers participating on the three Regional Groups we sponsor have assessed a total of 75 local parks for safety, accessibility and fun.
The park assessments, which have taken place in Antioch, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Concord’s Monument Community, and San Pablo, represent the Groups’ focus on urban planning and how it can present barriers or opportunities for children’s health. Safe, accessible, and age-appropriate parks are critical to promoting physical activity and outdoor play for children, particularly families living in Contra Costa’s lower income communities.
Using a rating system, and their children to “test drive” each park, Regional Group members and multiple partner agencies have spent Saturdays rating parks according to amenities offered (e.g., restrooms, seating, shade, water fountains), the condition of the play equipment and park grounds, safety concerns, creativity of play environment, and accommodations for children with special needs. Parents also rated how well their children liked the park and playground.
As is often the case in low-income neighborhoods, their assessments revealed significant health and safety concerns, such as broken play equipment, drug paraphernalia or glass bottles, community safety issues and illicit activity, a lack of play equipment for toddlers, broken water fountains, and filthy or unusable bathrooms.
After each assessment, the Groups compile their findings and share them with elected officials in each city. Just last month, 35 members of the Central County Regional Group and project partners presented their findings to the Concord City Council. As a result, Group members and their park team have been asked to participate in the City’s capital improvement budget process taking place next year.
Last month, the West County Regional Group assessed parks in San Pablo, joined by 50 participants representing families, churches, promotores, and children’s health advocates.
East County Regional Group members completed their park assessments in Antioch, Bay Point, and Pittsburg last summer and have produced flyers highlighting the best parks in each city. East and West County Regional Group members and their partners also plan to visit city councils and park and recreation commissions to present their findings.
To learn more about the project, or to join a Regional Group, contact Rhea Laughlin (925) 771-7312.