Parks After Dark continues to expand, providing fun and resources for families in SCV, LA County

Mister Johnson, center, watches where the ball is about to go during a game of basketball at Parks After Dark/ Ryan Mancini The Signal
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Val Verde Community Park is hosting Parks After Dark this summer, offering a community program to bring local at-risk youth together for activities, sports and family fun Thursday through Saturday nights.

Functioning across several parks in Los Angeles County, Parks After Dark has grown since it began three years ago.

“We are trying to expand out over the hill to Castaic, have people come in from there,” Mister Johnson, one of the supervisors for Val Verde, said Saturday night.

Parks After Dark started at three parks and has since expanded to 33, said Johnson. While the events have always been free to local communities, new incentives and activities are in the works to further increase participation. So far, the event has drawn around 100 young people per night, according to Johnson.

Those activities include several games, such as basketball, bubbleball, giant checkers and giant Jenga, along with exercise through boxing, yoga and a glow-in-the-dark run. Johnson said he is looking to add more elements to the program, such as baseball, youth flag football and a chili cook-off, as well as bringing an In-N-Out truck to the park Aug 4.

In addition to free food and entertainment, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has previously provided resource fairs with free health services to children participating, such as dental inspections for cavities.

“Our job here is to help out and make it as comfortable as possible for the community,” Johnson said.

For more information on Parks After Dark, go to the Los Angeles County website.

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