Connecting diverse communities to the many opportunities available in East Bay parks was the theme of the 3rd annual Multicultural Community Leaders Roundtable in Oakland April 16.
Sponsored by the East Bay Regional Park District, the event drew more than 45 participants from the Asian, Latino and African American communities. They represented senior centers, health clinics, faith-based groups, media, chambers of commerce and other organizations from throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The 2 ½-hour event was held at the Shoreline Center, which offered spectacular views of the wetlands at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline.
“It was wonderful to learn what outdoor opportunities are available in our East Bay parks,” said Paulette Arteaga, head of a Union City faith-based group called Pink Ribbon Tea, which helps cancer survivors. “The serenity, the beauty of our parks can make such a difference for people, especially those I work with. I’m going to start telling people, ‘Get up on your rooftop and see what’s in our backyard.’ … I’d definitely go to this event again.”
Participants had a chance to learn about the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors, the many free and low-cost programs offered by the Park District, and different ways to get involved in the parks – by visiting parks with family and friends, volunteering, and spreading the word to their communities.
Through the Park Prescriptions program, the Park District partners with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland to bring children and their families to local parks so they can enjoy the outdoors, meet other families, exercise, learn about nature and relax.
“The parks are where a sense of well-being as well as bonds of friendship and love can take place,” said Dr. Nooshin Razani, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital.
At almost all of the 65 parks in the District, free or low-cost activities are scheduled regularly. Everything from rigorous hikes to bird-watching to tours of an Ohlone village are among the offerings. Check out our Calendar of Activities for more information. The District also organizes free monthly Healthy Parks Healthy People walks at various Regional Parks. In addition, the multicultural self-care walks, funded by Kaiser Permanente, often combine yoga and laughter exercises as well as socializing across cultures.
For some participants, the most important part of the day was learning about the District’s youth employment program. The Park District is one of the largest employers of young people in the Bay Area, hiring almost 400 high school and college students annually as lifeguards, field interns, public safety interns, recreation leaders and other positions.
“Three hundred-plus jobs for youth every year is remarkable,” said Dong Kim, publisher of Hyundae Korean News USA . “This is the kind of information that my community likes to know so that they can support the park systems.”
A highlight of the day was an address by Robert Doyle, the Park District general manager. Doyle explained how the Park District protects and maintains almost 120,000 acres of pristine open space and parklands in the East Bay, and operates several state parks – including some of the East Bay’s most popular - almost no cost to the state.
He also emphasized the importance of Measure CC, a $12-per-year parcel tax that covers trail improvements, fire hazard reduction and infrastructure repairs in western Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Measure CC, which is set to expire in 2020, has helped bring some of the District’s oldest and most well-used parks up to modern standards.
Mona Koh, the District’s community relations manager, said the Multicultural Roundtable is an important way for the Park District to reach out to the diverse communities it serves. It’s also a great opportunity for leaders to meet each other, tell about their personal and community experiences in the parks, and share ideas to inspire each other, she said. For example, last year, the Korean School Association held their Drawing & Essay Contest at Quarry Lake Regional Recreational Area in Fremont and more than 1,000 youth participated.
“The Multicultural Roundtable is one of our most important annual events,” she said. “It’s great for us to meet the community leaders, hear what they have to say, and share with them the many opportunities available in our Park District. We thank everyone who attended and hope to see them all next year.”
Community Leaders had an opportunity to laugh together, make new connections, share about their communities’ park experiences, and enjoy a delicious Venezuelan lunch.
Park District General Manager Robert Doyle gave an overview on Measure CC, Park District’s Master Plan and youth employment.
In the News
1.Hyundae Korean News: East Bay Regional Park District Informs Communities About Measure CC
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 119,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.