Parents Help Antioch Get New Playground

ECRG members advocating for better parks in Antioch

An Antioch neighborhood is celebrating a brand new playground, thanks to a group of parents who worked with the city to renovate one of Antioch’s most dilapidated parks. To celebrate, the parents and representatives from the City of Antioch are holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 10 to unveil the new and improved Prosserville Park, now one of the largest parks in the city. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and have races, arts and crafts, face painting, and plenty of time for kids to play on the new structures.

The campaign for the new playground began when the East County Regional Group, a parent advocacy group First 5 Contra Costa sponsors, rated every park in Antioch. Their findings revealed that parks located in the city’s lower-income communities had higher crime, graffiti, and unsafe conditions compared to the city’s newer neighborhoods.

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Program Turns Parents Into Literacy Champions

Twenty-two parents at the West County First 5 Center are on their way to becoming certified “ Tandem® Literacy Champions.”

Tandem Partners in Early Learning®, the organization we fund to provide StoryCycles book-sharing programs throughout the County, trains parents so they can, in turn, help other parents in the community learn how to build their children’s early literacy and language skills.

The first step to becoming a Literacy Champion is for parents to attend four training sessions on early literacy and family engagement. Of the parents and caregivers participating at the West County First 5 Center, one was a father, three were grandparents, and most were bilingual in English and Spanish.

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New Program Gets Pittsburg Neighbors Moving

ECRG_800x532Improving the playground at De Anza Park in Pittsburg was just the beginning for the East County Regional Group.

Newly funded with a $20,000 from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Program, this dedicated group of parent advocates we sponsor are launching Pittsburg PACE (Parks, Activities, & Community Engagement) with a series of activities designed to increase physical activity among young children and families in Pittsburg’s Trident/De Anza Park neighborhood. Continue reading

Regional Group Hosts Park Clean Up

WCRG3Last weekend, 135 residents joined members of the West County Regional Group and the City of San Pablo to clean up Davis Park in San Pablo. Participants collected 56 bags of garbage and disposed of several large dumped items including television sets, doors, and broken strollers.

Davis Park was deemed the park most in need of improvements in San Pablo after the Regional Group reviewed conditions at each of the city’s parks. One of the main concerns at Davis was the excessive dumping and trash that make the park feel unsafe and unattractive for families to use.

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First 5 Advocates Partner with Police to Improve Parks

CCRGThe Regional Groups are continuing their efforts to help all Contra Costa children gain access to safe, usable parks and playgrounds. Their latest activities include co-hosting meetings with police representatives to improve safety in and around parks.

The Regional Groups, three parent advocacy groups First 5 Contra Costa trains, supports, and sponsors, began their park improvement work a few years ago by assessing conditions at 75 parks in the Monument community of Concord, East County and San Pablo. Results from these assessments have been presented to local city councils and park and recreation commissions, and so far, have generated $1.6 million in funds and grants from cities to pay for recommended improvements. But that was just the beginning.

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Regional Groups Net $1.4 Million for Park Improvements

Regional_Group_CCRG_SlideCity councils in Concord and San Pablo recently approved a total of $1.4 million to fund park improvement projects – and we have a dedicated group of parent leaders to thank for it.

For more than two years, members of the three Regional Groups we sponsor have been working to improve parks in Contra Costa County’s lowest income communities. Along with partners like Monument Impact, Healthy and Active Before 5, and Contra Costa Health Services, the Regional Groups began this effort by assessing 75 parks in cities including Antioch, Bay Point, Concord, Pittsburg, and San Pablo.

Findings and recommendations from these assessments then went to each city’s park and recreation commissions and/or city councils to secure funding to implement the Group’s priorities for park improvements. Continue reading

Meet Parent Advocate Dennisha Marsh

Dennisha Marsh jumped feet first into volunteering a few years ago joining both the Community Advisory Council at the Bay Point First 5 Center and the Policy Council for the Head Start program her son attended.

Although she had never volunteered in this capacity before, she wanted to have a voice in both her son’s education and the type of classes and programs offered in her community.

That’s what being on a CAC at a First 5 Center is all about. Each site has a board made up of parents and other community members to conduct needs assessments, surveys, or focus groups to make sure the Centers address the needs of families in their community. Throughout this process, CAC members receive training and assistance to build leadership skills.

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2014 Highlights

2014 was a productive year at First 5 Contra Costa. Our funded programs served more than 22,500 children and parents. In addition, 1,875 early child care educators from 217 child care sites received training and support on providing higher quality child care. Thanks to our funding partners for their work to help Contra Costa’s children grow up healthy, nurtured and ready to learn.

Take a look at some of our top highlights from 2014:

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Concord Dad Helps Fathers Engage with their Kids


Alex and his wife Marisol, also an active community leader in Concord

Alex Chavez wasn’t sure what to expect the first time he attended a Central County Regional Group meeting, but with a two-year-old son, he was interested to learn how this Group was making Concord safer and healthier for families. Three years later, he’s the Chair of the Group and its 60 active members.

“I had been looking for a way to become more involved with my community and become a community advocate, and this was it,” he said.


Alex presenting information to the Concord Parks Commission

As a member of the Regional Group, Alex has participated on assessments to improve neighborhood streets and parks in the Monument Community, even meeting with city officials to make recommendations. Earlier this year, he advocated in Sacramento for immigrant rights, meeting with Concord’s State Assembly Member, Susan Bonilla. That, he says, is a day he will never forget.

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San Pablo Mom Takes on Childhood Obesity


Lucy Alfaro-Canjura joined the West County Regional Group (WCRG) four years ago.

Lucy Alfaro-Canjura, a member of the West County Regional Group for the last four years, was recently appointed Co-Chair of the City of San Pablo’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Task Force.

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