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Home / Neighborhood / LA County / LA County marks 80 years of parks with outdoor programs for kids

LA County marks 80 years of parks with outdoor programs for kids

by Staff
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Coinciding with the Department of Parks and Recreation’s 80th anniversary, Los Angeles County is offering new outdoor-focused initiatives for children, officials announced Tuesday.

LA County Parks officials along with Board Chair and 3rd District Supervisor Lindsey Horvath and 1st District Supervisor Hilda Solis unveiled the Outdoor Children’s Bill of Rights “to celebrate 80 years of connecting Los Angeles County residents to parks and nature for public health, healthy child development, and adult well-being,” according to a county statement. The bill of rights accompanies the Let’s Play Outside campaign that will provide free programs and activities to all children throughout July.

“Connecting our community to nature and parks has been our core mission since our founding 80 years ago, and our world-class facilities and programming would not be possible without the support of our dedicated staff,” Norma E. García-González, director of LA County Parks, said in a statement. “The Department has played a significant role in Los Angeles County’s history, from having the first racially integrated golf course to preserving ecological and culturally significant sites. Today, we continue the mission of providing park access and resources for all through our ‘Let’s Play Outside’ campaign, which will provide children across LA County with free programming in July.”

The Outdoor Children’s Bill of Rights and the Let’s Play Outside campaign pledge to offer “all children, regardless of race, income, gender identity, ability, geographic location, or type of home … 10 essential experiences to celebrate childhood” — “1. Play Outdoors, 2. Explore Nature, 3. Splash in a Pool, 4. Go Fishing, 5. Follow a Trail, 6. Camp Under the Stars, 7. Ride a Bike, 8. Go Boating in a Lake, 9. Connect with Wildlife, and 10. Plant a Seed,” according to the county.

The parks department will offer bike classes, seed planting, sports, boating, guided trails, fishing and many more activities, officials said.

“We are thrilled to celebrate 80 years of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation by launching the Outdoor Children’s Bill of Rights and the ‘Let’s Play Outside’ campaign,” Horvath said in a statement. “Outdoor spaces are vital for the well-being of young people and all our communities. This initiative reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background, can experience the joy and benefits of nature and our parks. Let’s make this July a month of adventure, learning, and fun for our young people across LA County.” 

Solis said in a statement, “This Outdoor Children’s Bill of Rights is so fitting and timely because we know all children — particularly children who live in areas where they are exposed to high levels of indoor and outdoor pollution — still don’t have equal access to clean air and green spaces where they can stretch their minds and bodies. The ‘Let’s Play Outside’ campaign will go a long way to ensure every child has a place where they can swim and hike or just explore — regardless of their zip code — and help create a new generation empowered with healthier minds and bodies.”

The parks department has partnered with Rancho Los Amigos and Special Olympics to offer free “adaptive sports” programming at select parks, according to the county. Registration for free Ride A Bike classes hosted by Bike LA, Active SGV and Eastside Riders is also available at select park locations countywide.

To commemorate the department’s 80th anniversary, LA County Parks has put together a collection of historical photos showing many park playgrounds through the years. The collection is available to view on the internet at Yesterday’s Playgrounds, arcgis.com, in a virtual exhibit featuring 55 images of historic playgrounds, architectural plans and playground advertisements spanning 53 years. Images are from 1937 to 1980, with the most photos from the 1950s and ’60s indicating a period of rapid growth for both the parks department and the county. 

“For 80 years, our Los Angeles County parks have offered safe, beautiful spaces for children and their families to make joyful and lasting memories together,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley. “Whether you’re playing sports, splashing in the pool, watching an outdoor movie, or learning a new skill in a class, there is summer fun for people of all ages and interests at our County parks. I encourage residents to celebrate Parks and Recreation’s 80th birthday by enjoying and exploring all the great things they have to offer.”

LA County Parks was founded July 1, 1944, after county supervisors decided to merge the Department of Parks and the Department of Recreation, Camps and Playgrounds. Currently LA County Parks manages more than 183 facilities, 16 wildlife and wildflower sanctuaries, 20 golf courses, 41 public swimming pools, 25 equestrian amenities, 14 bodies of water that include three recreational and boating lakes and nine nature centers. In addition, it has over 240 miles of multi-use trails, 475 sport facilities and two iconic concert facilities: The Hollywood Bowl and John Anson Ford Theater.

For more information on the Let’s Play Outside campaign and a full list of the activity schedule, go to www.parks.lacounty.gov/lets-play-outside.

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