The National Recreation and Parks Association recently awarded the city of Santa Clarita for its Jakes Way Neighborhood Program in Canyon Country.
The 2019 Innovation in Social Equity Award is only given to one parks and recreation agency in the nation, which honors an innovative project that “improves access to local parks and recreation for everyone in the community, no matter the color of their skin, age, income level or ability,” the city said in a news release Monday.
The Jakes Way Neighborhood Program started in 2013 after the vicinity was annexed into the city. With approval from the property manager, city staff converted a vacant apartment in the Park Sierra Apartment Complex into a mini-community center to serve residents with limited access to parks and facilities due to transportation, language, financial and cultural barriers.
City staff and neighborhood committee members work alongside volunteers, school representatives and nonprofit staff to create ongoing recreational and educational opportunities, including an after-school program, summer camp, English classes, workshops and family events. Additional supportive services are weaved into recreation by bringing in local school staff, sheriff’s deputies and health nurses, among others, the news release read.
There are about 45 to 60 children currently participating in the drop-in summer program, which is held in the playground area of the apartment complex through mid-August on weekdays.
“The multipronged approach the program uses creates a safe and encouraging environment that makes children more likely to participate in recreation activities and avoid negative pressures. In the end, the biggest benefit is, it enhances the overall quality of life for families in the neighborhood,” Mayor Marsha McLean said in a prepared statement.
Part one crime and graffiti in the immediate area has dropped by 25% and 20% this year when compared to 2018, according to the city.
The city will be recognized at the 2019 National Recreation and Park Association conference in Baltimore, Maryland on Sept. 25.
For more information about the award or the Jakes Way Neighborhood Program, contact Janine Prado, director of Recreation and Community Services at [email protected]