The children and families in the cities of Richmond and Antioch will get the parks of their dreams.
Through grassroots resident leadership and city/community partnerships, Contra Costa County received over $15 million (40% of the $36 million awarded to the Bay Area) from Proposition 68 grant funds to renovate and create local parks in underserved communities
The City of Richmond was awarded $12.7 million in grant funds for two projects ($8.5 million for the Harbour-8 Park Expansion and $4.2 million for the Boorman Park Revitalization) and the City of Antioch was awarded nearly $3 million for the Contra Loma Estates Park Project. There were 478 applications received and the Statewide Park Program (SPP), designed to create new parks and recreation opportunities in critically underserved communities across California, selected 62 applications statewide with three park locations in Contra Costa County.
The parent advocacy groups—West County Regional Group and East County Regional Group, both sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa—served as the community partner for two of the three projects. The regional groups led participatory community park needs assessments that resulted in the identification of priority parks (Boorman Park and Contra Loma Estates Park) in the highest need of attention. In partnership with First 5 Contra Costa, Healthy & Active Before 5, the City of Richmond, and the City of Antioch, resident leaders organized a series of in-depth community workshops to create the future vision and design of both parks. The funding will make the community’s dream for their local parks a reality.
The total funding approved for grants throughout the State was $254.9 million, with $36 million awarded to the Bay Area. With SPP embracing meaningful engagement with local residents where park designs represent each community’s unique recreation needs and creativity, the grant applications from Contra Costa County represented parent leadership, an innovative model, and a commitment to a community-driven process.
“Parks are important for our children to grow up healthy. Just because we live in a low-income area, does not mean our children should have less. Our kids and communities deserve quality parks to play in and be active”, said Leydi Maldonado, Chair of the parent advocacy group, West County Regional Group.
Similarly, residents mobilized by the East County Regional Group have worked with the city of Antioch for years to bring needed investments to Contra Loma Estates Park. Residents’ support and advocacy led the City of Antioch to make unprecedented improvements and the partnership played an instrumental role in receiving the grant award.
“This investment will shape childhoods for generations to come. We are thrilled that Richmond and Antioch children will have the innovative, fun, and safe places to play outdoors that they deserve. These park grants represent what we can accomplish together when we partner with residents and bring multiple organizations together to transform neighborhoods”, said Rhea Elina Laughlin with First 5 Contra Costa.
Public parks are essential spaces for promoting community health, and in particular, physical activity, outdoor play, and mental well-being among families with young children. It is well established that early childhood is a critical time in the life course for promoting health and preventing chronic disease. With improved access to quality parks in their own neighborhoods, the youngest children of Contra Costa County are more likely to benefit from opportunities for a healthy start to their lives.
“Promoting and advocating for local policies that increase access to safe and healthy open spaces for children and families to play, connect, and be active is integral to First 5 Contra Costa’s mission to promote optimal development for all children” Ruth Fernandez, Executive Director at First 5 Contra Costa.
Regional Groups are parent advocacy groups of residents working to make communities healthier, safer, and more equitable for young children and families. Three groups exist in Contra Costa County and work in partnership with the First 5 Contra Costa Community Engagement and Advocacy Program: East County Regional Group (ECRG), West County Regional Group (WCRG), and Central County Regional Group (CCRG).
First 5 Contra Costa helps young children start school healthy, nurtured and ready to learn by investing in programs and activities focused on children during their first five years—the most important time in children’s development.
Click here to learn more about our Regional Groups: http://www.first5coco.org/funded-programs/regional-groupsparent-advocacy/
The Monument Community of Concord is celebrating two new playgrounds with a parade and ribbon cuttings after the Central County Regional Group we sponsor urged the city council to improve parks in their community.
The effort began in 2013 when the CCRG and partners assessed conditions at parks in the Monument neighborhood of Concord. Two parks, Ellis Lake and Meadow Homes, needed the most improvement, lacked bathrooms, and had more crime and safety issues.
After the parents presented their concerns at several city council meetings, council members agreed to allocate $1.1 million to renovate the two parks.
At Ellis Lake Park, the city expanded the playground by 2,900 square feet, and installed benches, lighting, drinking fountains, a safety barrier near a small lake, and new public restrooms which include a tot-sized toilet and sink rarely found in city parks. Meadow Homes Park received a 4,900-square-foot playground with structures for older and younger children.
The parents group is also tackling crime and safety issues by sponsoring community meetings with police and forming neighborhood watch programs. First 5 Contra Costa and the First 5 Center program adjacent to Ellis Lake Park, will also provide free sports classes and other children’s activities to keep the parks filled with families and deter crime.
The celebration events will take place on October 7th, starting at Meadow Homes Park at 10:00 a.m. After the ribbon-cutting there, families will form a parade to Ellis Lake Park to enjoy face painting, arts and crafts, a bike rodeo, and more.
The new playground projects were funded by the City of Concord in response to the Monument Parks Assessment conducted by the Central County Regional Group, First 5 Contra Costa, Monument Impact, and Contra Costa Health Services.
First 5 Contra Costa and the three parent advocacy groups it sponsors have partnered with city officials to refurbish eight neglected parks in low-income communities throughout the county.
Learn more: www.first5coco.org.
A street party is taking place to celebrate a community-driven project that led to $2.7 million in pedestrian safety improvements on Detroit Avenue, one of Concord’s most heavily trafficked streets located in the heart of the Monument community.
The celebration culminates a process that began in 2012, when the Central County Regional Group, a parent advocacy group we train and sponsor, conducted an assessment of walking and biking safety on Detroit Avenue with help from local agencies and elected officials. Detroit Avenue lacked safe sidewalks, bike lanes and crossings, which resulted in a number of collisions in recent years.
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.
Lucy credits her participation on the Regional Group with building her leadership skills and preparing her for such an important community role. About 150 parents volunteer on three Regional Groups sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa in order to make Contra Costa healthier, safer and more family-friendly. The program teaches community residents leadership and advocacy skills and how to contribute their voices to the political process.
“Participating as a member of the WCRG has empowered me to increase awareness about important health concerns, such as childhood obesity in my community,” Lucy said. “By being a leader in the WCRG, I’ve learned necessary tools to become a leader in my community. My participation assisted me with networking opportunities in San Pablo and Contra Costa County. I’m now a familiar face to many families in the community.” Continue reading