FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — AUG 28, 2013 –
Information in this report comes chiefly from Edwin Garcia, Media Relations Specialist for Kaiser Permanente.
On Tuesday of last week (August 20), local civic leaders and local families celebrated the opening of West Sacramento’s newest city park. Westfield Park — adjacent to Westfield Village Elementary School — resulted from a “grassroots effort led by parents, a unique partnership between a coalition of stakeholders – including the city of West Sacramento, and Washington Unified School District – and a $150,000 Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit grant awarded to Yolo County Children’s Alliance (YCCA),” reports Edwin Garcia, a Kaiser Permanente spokesman.
“This is an amazing day for all of us,” said Katie Villegas, executive director of the YCCA, in a press release from Kaiser. Villegas is a West Sacramento resident and local school board member. She leads the YCCA, a Davis-based organization that worked with parents, city officials, county representatives, school board members and local organizations to create the park.
Visitors at the park’s inauguration included Robert Azevedo, M.D., the physician-in-chief of Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento; West Sacramento City Councilman Oscar Villegas and other city officials; Washington Unified School District Superintendent Dayton Gilleland; school district board President Mary Leland; Westfield Village School Principal Ryan Gonzales; and Yolo County Supervisors Mike McGowan and Don Saylor.
Several of the speakers at Tuesday’s ceremony recalled how a group of neighborhood parents several years ago lobbied the city council, parks and recreation staff, and school district representatives, for a park in a neighborhood that never had one.
The neighborhood might be called an “underserved” community, with few local recreation assets.
Eventually, city and school district officials came up with a plan, reported Kaiser spokesman Garcia: the district would transfer to the city part of a grassy field at Westfield Village School, and the city would design and build a park. Funding, however, was a major obstacle.
In the meantime, YCCA, a non-profit, was working on projects to improve the health of children and adults in West Sacramento – and some of the parents involved in its programs were the same ones who, years earlier, had lobbied the city for a park.
The effort to create the park, and the neighborhood initiatives headed by YCCA – such as the desire to reduce childhood obesity, increasing nutrition awareness, and offering Zumba classes to parents – found to be in alignment with Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating Active Living initiative.
The Kaiser Permanente grant in late 2011 added momentum to the effort to build the park.
“This really fits well with what Kaiser Permanente is about, in promoting good health and disease prevention,” said Dr. Azevedo. “We’re very pleased to be part of this program. It is wonderful to see these families out here being active and part of the community.”
As Dr. Azevedo spoke, several children were already climbing, jumping and running at the park’s new play structure.
“I am very happy because now we have a place to bring our children to play; we know how important it is for them to exercise,” said Lourdes Maya, a mother of a 9-year-old girl, and boys ages 7 and 5, who live within a 10 minute walk of the new park.
West Sacramento’s park master plan calls for a play structure for older kids, a covered barbecue area, a drinking fountain, a 6-foot-wide walking path, an exercise par course, and connections to a bike/pedestrian trail located at the western edge of the park.
The park is located on Poplar Avenue just across a newly built fence from Westfield Village School, between West Capitol and Sacramento avenues.
Councilman Oscar Villegas thanked the parents for their efforts. Some of them have since taken the role of promotoras – lay people who are trained to be neighborhood health advocates through YCCA and funded by the Kaiser Permanente grant. “I really want to thank the promotoras,” Councilman Villegas said. “Without their initiative and their stick-to-it-iveness this would not have happened. As you can see, many of them are enjoying the park right now, with their children.”
The Kaiser HEAL grant also has helped fund the implementation of “Playworks: Make Recess Count,” a school-based program that trains adult volunteers to lead out in physical activities during recess at Westfield Village.
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