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Revitalizing the Lower L.A. River: Voices from Maywood – Healthy Sports and Recreation Bring People Together

Maywood parks are underutilized, and don’t offer any sports leagues. Active recreation programs like soccer and baseball can encourage people to use parks, promote healthier lifestyles, cut risky behavior like gangs, crime, drugs, and violence, and connect public officials with the community

A mother and long-time Maywood community member explains:

We do need parks and rec. That’s why I believe there is so much obesity and diabetes in our culture, because we don’t have the sports and the things we used to. Our people here in this community, it’s mainly poorer community, they don’t have the money to pay for YMCA.

Another passionate long-time resident explains that organized sports encourage people to use parks, and help young people stay out of gangs:

Why are you investing in all these parks, but not investing in activities that would grab people’s attention to come? Since it has no activities, or things that would attract families, drug addicts, or homeless, they see that they come here, so “I’m not gonna use that park.” All that money could have been invested in programs, activities, for kids; things to keep kids busy.

To me by biggest problem here has always been gang participation. I grew up around it. So you have nothing to do. You see your neighbor, he’s a gang member, you hang with them, you’re in a gang now. You threw away football talent. Threw away, possibility of earning a degree or something. All because the City doesn’t have money to invest in the youth?

Physical education compliance in public schools, and joint use of parks, schools, and pools, also offer opportunities for healthy active recreation.

This a continuing series on Revitalizing the Lower L.A. River: Voices from Maywood. Maywood is disproportionately of color, low income, and park-poor.

This work is based on my Master’s Thesis, An Alternative Paradigm to Revitalization of the Lower Los Angeles River: A Maywood Story (Master’s Thesis, M.S. Regenerative Studies, Cal Poly Pomona, College of Environmental Design 2017).

Please feel free to email me at tmok [ @ ] cityprojectca.org if you have any comments or questions.

See Whitewashing the L.A. River? Displacement and Equitable Greening.

Photo: Maywood Riverfront Park