Swim classes in Concord.

About five years ago, members of our parent-led volunteer groups – the Central, East, and West County Regional Groups – conducted a community needs assessment related to childhood obesity.

They learned that while parents wanted their young children to be more physically active, many could not afford the steep fees that come with organized sports or city-run recreation programs. So they decided to do something about it.

The parents approached park and recreation departments in six cities to partner on a new project. First 5 would pay for sports classes, the Regional Group members would conduct outreach to recruit participants, and each city would secure venues and assist with registration. Not long after, low-cost sports classes for young children began in Oakley, Antioch, Bay Point, Concord, San Pablo, and Richmond.

A karate class in Richmond.

Since then over 2,700 children have taken classes such as karate, swim lessons, soccer, dance, and gymnastics. Each family pays around $10 per class session. Last year alone this effort resulted in 86 different sports classes being offered, which served 744 children.

This project has built leaders among our parent volunteers, helped hundreds of low-income children engage in physical activity as a way to prevent childhood obesity, and helped cash-strapped city departments to expand their programming and provide services to families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Perhaps most exciting is that two of the cities, Bay Point and San Pablo, have continued to offer low-cost classes as part of their regular programming. Because our parent leaders demonstrated a need to provide low-cost classes, these cities were able to either leverage our funding or secure additional outside funding to continue providing low-costs programs. Our goal is that the other cities will follow suit and implement sustainable low-cost programs for families.

Watch this short video to learn more about how the Regional Group members are helping families in Bay Point.

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