COUNTY PARK FRIENDS AWARDED OUTDOOR EQUITY PROGRAM GRANT
June 1, 2022 Live Oak, Santa Cruz County, Calif.—County Park Friends is proud to announce they have been awarded the Outdoor Equity Program grant from California State Parks to expand access to outdoor experiences on public lands for families and youth in the Live Oak neighborhood.
“We asked Live Oak families what they wanted and needed for their children to fully enjoy public parks and nature.” said Executive Director Mariah Roberts. “This grant is built on what we learned from the families who will participate.”
Along with 125 total communities statewide, the funding helps establish a community hub at Brommer County Park for local activities and trips to natural areas for underserved communities. The program also empowers youth and families with outdoor leadership education, career pathways, environmental justice engagement, and access to nature.
“California State Parks is incredibly proud to announce grant funding to strengthen access to parks and open spaces and contribute to a better quality of life for Californians,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “These programs will turn parks into outdoor classrooms, inspiring a new generation of environmental leadership in California.”
For the first grant cycle of the program, State Parks evaluated 384 grant applications totaling $167.78 million in requests. The $57 million in grants was made available through general funds approved by the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 state budgets.
In addition to County Park Friends (Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks) multiple other Monterey Bay communities received grants in a testament to area commitment and best practices, with the full list of projects available online at parks.ca.gov/oep.
In 2019, the Outdoor Equity Grants Program was enacted when Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 209. The concept for the grant program began with findings in the 2015 Parks Forward Commission Report stating that State Parks must expand access to parks for underserved communities and urban populations. The 2015 Parks Forward discussions became a catalyst for AB 209. Californians shared a similar vision in 2017 during 30 focus groups with over 500 participants for the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. Throughout the state, from heavily urbanized to rural areas, Californians emphasized a desire for multi-generational programs that “bring families together,” activate local parks and take residents with transportation challenges to natural areas outside their communities.
“Delivering services across the state – including in many communities currently without adequate outdoor programs – will make a real, lasting difference in the lives of young people and all residents,” said Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot. “I am especially excited about empowering young people to explore their leadership potential. It’s one more way the state of California is working to improve the lives of all Californians.”
Four of every 10 Californians have no access to open space within walking distance of their home and six of every 10 Californians live in park-poor neighborhoods. Programs such as the Outdoors Equity Grants Program help advance the “Outdoor Access for All” initiative championed by Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the Natural Resources Agency’s “Outdoors for All” initiative. This effort expands outdoor access to all Californians through focused investments in open space infrastructure, outdoor programming, and improvements to permit applications, with a priority to expanding access in underserved communities.
WHEELIN’ BBALL COMMUNITY KICK-OFF EVENT
June 2022 -SANTA CRUZ COUNTY: Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, Public Health Division is honored to invite all wheelchair users and other youth with disabilities, along with their families and friends to participate in Wheelin’ BBall Community Kick-off! The FREE event will include a wheelchair basketball demonstration and clinic with an appearance by the Santa Cruz Warriors’ Mascot Mav’Rick, and a barbecue.
Beginners are encouraged to participate, and manual wheelchairs are recommended. Event leaders will include Paralympians, wheelchair basketball coaches and players. Wheelin’ BBall Kickoff will take place on Saturday, June 4th from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Franich Park located at 795 Vista Montana Drive in Watsonville.
“We are so pleased to hold this event, which is the first of its kind focused on sports for youth with disabilities in the Monterey Bay Area,” said Denise Sanford, California Children’s Services Supervising Therapist of the Health Services Agency’s Public Health Division. “The event would not have been possible without the collaboration and sponsorship of County Park Friends, California Children’s Services in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, the City of Watsonville and Shared Adventures, our local non-profit that organizes recreational and social events for people with disabilities.”
Wheelin’ BBall Community Kick-off will be followed by a 5-day Whellin’ BBall youth and family camp starting the week of June 13th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m coached by former Paralympian Nathan Perkins. The limited space camp, designed by Brenda Gutierrez of County Park Friends, is FREE and addresses the need for outdoor recreation and community connection for people of all abilities. The plan is to build on these events to establish a Monterey Bay youth wheelchair basketball team.
Registration is appreciated but not required. To register, please click: THIS LINK
For further information, please contact County Park Friends at (831) 200-9403.