May 162012


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Land on and near the Westfield Village Elementary School’s playfields will be upgraded into a neighborhood park, thanks largely to a $150,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente.

  The grant comes from a Kaiser program that tries to fight obesity by helping people eat better and become more active. Westfield, located on Poplar Avenue in the city’s older north area, is one of 12 sites to receive portions of the fund’s $10 million allocation.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding from Kaiser Permanente because it gives us the resources to solve a very specific problem in the neighborhood – the lack of park space, especially for children and families who want to stay active on weekends and during the summer,” said Katie Villegas in a press release. She is executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, which received the grant. Some of the other partners include the local school district and city government, as well as churches, community groups and Northern California Construction Training Inc.

Maria Romero, left,Yolo County Children’s Alliance. Rocio Martinez, center, a Westfield Village Elementary School parent Katie Villegas, right, executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance.(Photo courtesy of Edwin Garcia, Kaiser Permanente) Romero, Martinez and Villegas were at Westfield Village Elementary School on April 25 to announce a $150,000 grant that Kaiser Permanente gave to Yolo County Children’s Alliance, to create a public park at the school, and other initiatives to improve the health of the Westfield neighborhood through a coalition of community organizations. Part of the existing grassy area will be fenced off for the new park, which will include a walking trail around the grass, and a play structure, among other amenities. Groundbreaking could begin as early as this summer.

The Alliance is working on creation of a walking trail around the park, removing unsafe baseball backstops, building restrooms, planting trees and making other improvements at Westfield.

“Like Kaiser Permanente, we know at the City of West Sacramento that the built environment in neighborhoods makes a tremendous difference in the healthy choices that our residents can make,” said Mayor Christopher Cabaldon in the Kaiser press release. “We also know it’s a big challenge to retrofit older neighborhoods with the parks, playgrounds and field that are mandatory for new developments.”

  Besides park infrastructure, the grant will help fund community outreach. The “Promotoras de Salud” will employ locals to encourage their neighbors to become more active. They’ve already enrolled dozens in a new – and free – Zumba exercise class in the neighborhood, reports Kaiser.

The grant also supports a school program that trains adult volunteers to lead physical activities in recess.

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