Field Day at Martin Luther King Jr. Playground in Harlem showcases variety of programming featured at parks in high-need neighborhoods around the city
69 new Playground Associates, new partnerships and targeted improvements brought to neighborhood parks
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today joined Executive Director of City Parks Foundation Heather Lubov, Senior Education Manager at El Museo Del Barrio Remei Capdevila, President of Events for New York Road Runners and Race Director of the TCS New York City Marathon Peter Ciaccia, and Program Manager for the Uni Project Adynah Johnson to bring free programming for kids and adults to every corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Playground. The field day was a showcase of the variety of programming that will be held in parks throughout the city thanks to the Community Parks Initiative (CPI).
“Access to parks doesn’t depend on proximity alone – it means having a well-cared for space where neighbors feel welcome, engaged, and proud,” said Commissioner Silver. “Since the Community Parks Initiative was launched in October 2014, we’ve already made a direct impact on high-needs communities by making small but important improvements in their local parks. This summer, we look forward to supplementing these treasured neighborhood spaces with a renewed focus on sports, fitness, and arts programming.”
“Every neighborhood from Tremont to West New Brighton, regardless of income bracket, deserves to have a thriving park where kids can play. As the largest single programmer in CPI parks, City Parks Foundation is thrilled to team up with NYC Parks this summer to offer free sports, arts, education and fitness programs to kids in 58 locations across our citywide parks and playgrounds,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation.
“El Museo del Barrio is proud to partner with NYC Parks and bring free artmaking workshops to playgrounds and parks in Harlem and the South Bronx,” said Senior Manager at El Museo del Barrio Remei Capdevile. “In line with our mission, we remain committed to serving our community via arts and education initiatives.”
“The mission of New York Road Runners is to help and inspire people through running, and we are thrilled to support fitness and health programs for people of all ages and abilities that encourage them to Run for Life,” said Peter Ciaccia, president of events for New York Road Runners and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon. “Our longtime partnership with Parks allows us to work together on improving the health and well-being of communities through a variety of initiatives. We look forward to expanding our efforts with CPI, including additional programming and infrastructure improvements that will help get more and more New Yorkers moving towards a healthier lifestyle.”
"The Uni Project is happy to be partnering with NYC Parks to support communities in CPI zones by creating new places to read and draw within their local parks,” said Program Manager for the Uni Project Adynah Johnson. “It has been wonderful to see the response so far - it makes people hopeful. We look forward to continuing the program this summer at plazas, parks, and play streets."
Enhanced programming this summer will be targeted to under-resourced parks in densely populated communities that are home to a higher-than-average percentage of individuals and families with incomes below the poverty line. NYC Parks has identified 55 of these priority zones across the five boroughs, which are now benefitting from capital investment, extended recreational programs, increased maintenance staffing, expanded community engagement efforts and partnership-building, and physical park repairs through the Community Parks Initiative.
This summer, neighborhood parks in CPI zones will benefit from:
• 69 New Playground Associates. Funded by $1.2 million from Mayor de Blasio through CPI, these new playground staff will organize summer programs in parks throughout CPI zones. Kids in Motion staff lead four to seven hours of free activities for children per day, including organized sports, games, fitness demos, guided walks, board games, water games and more; and The Summer Sports Experience offers kids aged 8-14 can free training in baseball, basketball, flag football, futsal, lacrosse, soccer, Speedminton, track, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball. Training for Playground Associates was facilitated by Playworks, a leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play to make kids, schools and communities stronger.
• More than 40 new Shape Up NYC free fitness classes that have been added to sites in CPI zones since January. With a new influx of instructors about to graduate from NYC Parks’ Fitness Instructor Training Program, we expect to expand the program even more in the coming weeks.
• NYC Parks’ Urban Park Rangers, who connect New Yorkers to the natural world and foster stewardship for parks through environmental education and outdoor recreation programs like hiking tours, canoeing lessons, and wilderness workshops. This summer, the Rangers will continue to offer these events in parks that contain natural assets like Crotona and Barretto Point Parks in the Bronx, Bayswater Park in Queens and Silver Lake Park in Staten Island. To enhance their regular offerings, the Rangers have targeted summer camps and schools serving children in CPI zones to provide programming and expand access to environmental education.
• A significant expansion of free arts, educational, and sports programming provided by the City Parks Foundation, to reach 58 different parks in CPI zones. City Parks Foundation will also be piloting a new fitness program called Get Up & Go specifically for CPI parks. Get Up & Go features fun-filled, aerobic activities designed to build strength and agility, combat obesity, and reinforce healthy, life-long attitudes toward wellness. Free golf & tennis instruction, as well as PuppetMobile and SummerStage performances will also be featured in CPI parks.
• Expanded Partnerships with organizations bringing even more events, performances and activities to neighborhood parks in and serving CPI neighborhoods. El Museo del Barrio has provided art and storytelling workshops throughout Central and East Harlem, including Martin Luther King Playground. New York Road Runners is furthering their mission to give all people, everywhere a reason to run by partnering with Parks to bring free programming and infrastructure improvements that support running to CPI parks. The Uni Project is creating pop-up reading rooms with quality books and trained staff in playgrounds across the five boroughs.
• Targeted Improvements. Working throughout the spring, NYC Parks crews have already completed immediate improvements in 60 parks in CPI neighborhoods. This work includes painting, fixing benches, adding sports surfacing, repairing fountains, and planting. At MLK Playground, neighbors will be welcomed by new sports surfacing, backboards and repaired hoops on the basketball court, a fresh coat of paint in the play area, repaired benches and upgrades to the existing comfort station.
• Increased Community Engagement thanks to funding from Mayor de Blasio to support 10 Outreach Coordinators and Analysts in CPI zones. Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of NYC Parks and City Parks Foundation, will continue their intensive support for local community groups to create community-led programming throughout the CPI zones this summer.
The Community Parks Initiative, launched in October 2014, is one of the immediate steps NYC Parks is taking toward a brighter, greener and more equitable future. To learn more about the ways we are creating thriving public spaces for all New Yorkers, visit: http://nyc.gov/parks/cpi
Watch a video about Kids in Motion: https://youtu.be/0Vu_qGYtBxc