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The Department of Recreation and Parks Goes Mobile

Posted February 13, 2021 by City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks

The Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) envisions an accessible park system for all residents and is committed to equity by specifically focusing its investments to close current disparities in park access and park program participation. These disparities have been found to disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. A Mobile Recreation Program is one answer to addressing these inequities and helping to make LA the best place to PLAY by bringing themed vans to LAUSD schools not within a 10-minute walk of a park. RAP's goal was to bring a park environment to communities that do not have easy access to parks.

The objective is to mobilize and make accessible various physical activities that will allow youth to participate in the communities that are underserved. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and LAUSD school closures, RAP's themed vans will visit LA City pocket/neighborhood parks and our 60 Alternative Learning Centers that do not provide any recreational programs. These vans will bring a variety of themed activities that allow for social distancing and stable groups such as field hockey, tennis, track & field, volleyball, skate ramps, and back to basics like jump ropes, hopscotch, and chalk art. During this pandemic, schools, playgrounds, and swimming pools have all been closed, and children have been restricted to staying at home with no recreation or sports programs available.

Progress So Far

Since being awarded the LA2050 grant and receiving funds from Goldhirsh Foundation and Annenberg Foundation, RAP has been working with various groups to achieve the vision and goals of this program. With the assistance of the Los Angeles Parks Foundation, RAP's first success has been to be able to purchase two 2020 Ford Transit cargo vans for the Mobile Recreation Program. The vans are currently with experts designing the interior of the vans to house the numerous concepts needed for the Mobile Recreation Program. RAP is also in dialogue with graphics experts to design artwork for the exterior of the vans. Simultaneously, RAP is in the midst of the City's administrative process to take full ownership of the vans for the dedicated purpose of utilizing them for a Mobile Recreation Program.

Next Steps

Once the vans are ready to mobilize, qualified skilled staff will drive them to various neighborhoods to provide activities such as badminton, judo, soccer, wheelchair basketball or tennis, and skateboarding to echo the spirit of the Olympic games. RAP staff will introduce youth to traditional and non-traditional Olympic and Paralympic Sports, as well as back to basic games.

The next steps toward implementing the Mobile Recreation Program are to secure all the necessary City approvals to take full possession of the vans and to complete the exterior artwork. RAP will determine the types and amount of play and sports equipment that is needed to fill these vans and then will move forward in making those purchases.

As the vans near completion, RAP will conduct outreach to the community by working with our public relations team and the parks, to market the opportunity to participate in mobile play.