• To improve local neighborhood park facilities.
• To build community through self-help community building.
• To empower grassroots community groups to improve the park facilities in their own neighborhoods in cooperation with local and state government.
• To nurture physically and socially stronger children, emotionally stronger families, and, thus, stronger communities.
• To organize community building efforts to maximize the participation of the neighborhood children to develop their skills and self-esteem.
Our most visible accomplishment is the new play equipment at Cliffside Park and a new sense of community responsibility. Less visible, but much more significant in the long run, is the positive neighborhood experience with community action. We have an interesting mix of volunteers who come out to work on our Park Day projects. We have a small core of dedicated adults, including several retirees who’ve discovered a rewarding new avenue for community service. We had a great turnout of experienced professional construction workers for the concrete pour.
But, the real surprise has been the number of children who have shown up on their own to work. We’ve learned that these children are often alone on weekends. Their parents are at work. Give these kids gloves and the right tools and they are really enthusiastic workers! They have made chipping paint, rolling on the primer, and finishing concrete into fun for all of us. We’ve developed routines for monitoring their safety. We’ve all learned something very special about the rewards of working together.
We’re so pleased that these children are learning that it’s not always up to someone else to fix things and make them better. They’re learning useful skills. They’re learning about workmanship, responsibility, and “ownership” of their neighborhood. We expect them to have protective pride in the new play equipment.