Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Parks Build Community

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Parks Build Community

Article excerpt


The Marvin Gaye Park Partnership one year later

At Marvin Gaye Park in Washington, D.C., NRPA is leading an innovative partnership to support and document the role of inner-city parks in countering health disparities. Launched in July 2009 as part of NRPAs Parks Build Communities initiative, this collaboration with Washington Parks & People and the District of Columbia government and community leaders is already producing important impacts and findings. The partnership builds on the largest community park reclamation partnership in the history of the capital, where the revitalization of the park corridor is making a dramatic difference in the lives of thousands of residents of this long-underserved stream valley on the far eastern edge of D.C.

The research is especially timely, as it comes at a time when NRPA and other park partners have provided a range of park and trail improvements designed to boost the park's use for physical activity of all kinds. Among these is the accessible playground at the hub of the park, funded by NRPA partner companies, which is the first new playground in the park corridor in more than 30 years.

The research employs several tools to document the range of health needs and impacts of the improvements coming into the park. Under the leadership of Dr. Autumn Saxton-Ross, assistant director of Washington Parks & People, in collaboration with NRPA Research Director Bill Beckner, the community is using a participatory research technique called Photovoice to record the range of physical, environmental, and social health needs in the park corridor. This approach aims to increase the involvement of marginalized groups in decision-making that affects their lives and the lives of others in their community, Our Eyes East, the Marvin Gaye Park project, has 13 youth participants and five adults preparing to exhibit their work at the beginning of the summer.

Park users are also being surveyed on the impacts of the playground installation. In the Adult Playground Surveys, the majority of parents indicated approval of the playground, with many saying that the plush "foam ground" and that the playground "gives the children their own space" as a response to the question of what they like most about the park. The swings and spinners were noted as the parent's children's favorite piece of equipment. When asked have you noticed any changes within the park in the past year, two -thirds responded "yes," with most responding the change was positive, saying the park and playground are beautiful and that they see more community togetherness. …

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