Val Verde Park to stay open late as part of ‘Parks After Dark’ program

FILE PHOTO: The Dream Team, a recreational basketball team of 15 and 16-year-old boys in the Santa Clarita Parks and Rec league, practices on Tuesday morning at Central Park. They practice usually once per week indoors, but went outside because of the nice weather. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Val Verde Community Regional Park will soon be open late on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays as part of Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Parks After Dark (PAD) program.

Beginning June 15, 23 parks throughout Los Angeles County, including Val Verde Park, will remain open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. to provide free recreational activities, health outreach programs and social services for the entire family.

“Parks After Dark is a proven program that has improved the quality-of-life in neighborhoods across Los Angeles County,” said John Wicker, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation in a statement. “Through its incredible array of free activities for youth and families alike, PAD has transformed many communities for the better.”

Parks After Dark began in 2010 as a way to transform parks into safe havens for community members to participate in programming and gain access to resources, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

This year’s programs include organized sports, exercise classes, teen activities, movies, swimming, concerts, movies, arts and crafts, jumpers for kids and cooking classes.  It will also include resource fairs that offer social, health, economic and legal services.

Some parks will also offer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) mobile museums and booths.

A 2016 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLS) evaluation found that, out of the more than 175,000 participated in the program, 94 percent would participate in the program again and 97 percent said it improved quality time with their families.

The evaluation also found that the programs increased social cohesion and decreased community violence, in addition to encouraging healthy living.

“Parks After Dark creates safe havens that make it easier for people to be active at local parks and take advantage of free health and social services,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health in a statement.

Val Verde Community Regional will stay open until 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from June 15 to Aug. 5.

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