Miami-Dade County

Vote now: Three Miami-Dade parks compete for $20,000 grant from national campaign

Summer Splash-Water Splash at A.D. “Doug” Barnes Park would provide residents with greater access to drowning prevention techniques, and also infant swimming lessons for parents and toddlers.
Summer Splash-Water Splash at A.D. “Doug” Barnes Park would provide residents with greater access to drowning prevention techniques, and also infant swimming lessons for parents and toddlers. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Throughout April — also known as Earth Month — Miami-Dade County residents can vote for one of three parks to receive $20,000 in grant funding through the national Meet Me at the Park campaign.

“Miami-Dade Parks is thrilled to be chosen to be part of the Meet Me at the Park grant campaign. These three proposed parks revitalization projects are all in critical need of these grant dollars. However, only one can win” said Miami-Dade Parks Deputy Director Maria Nardi. “Now is the time everyone to be a parks champion by supporting the parks project that they like best and by spreading the word about the importance of parks.”

For the third year in a row, the campaign is being led by the National Recreation and Park Association in collaboration with The Walt Disney Co., which includes the Disney/ABC Television Group and ESPN, to help fund local park improvements in 16 U.S cities. In Miami-Dade, three park projects are in the running for funding:

▪ A.D. “Doug” Barnes Park, 3401 SW 72nd Ave.

Summer Splash-Water Splash would provide residents with greater access to drowning-prevention techniques, and also help fund infant swimming lessons for parents and toddlers. Also, the park’s “Water Smart” program would teach residents lifesaving techniques in case of unexpected pool accidents. To vote for this project, text adbarnes to 35350.

▪ Gwen Cherry Park, 7090 NW 22nd Ave, Miami.

The Community Garden project focuses on healthy living by educating residents about the importance of nutritious food and how to start growing fresh produce in areas where it may be hard to find. To vote for this project, text gwencherry to 35350.

▪ West Little River Park, 2326 NW 84th St, Miami.

The Pros SNAG Summer Golf Clinic and Championship Tournament project would support increased participation of inner-city and urban youth, age 14 and under, in the game of golf, implementing summer SNAG (Starting New At Golf) clinics. To vote for this project, text westlittle to 35350. (Message and data rates may apply for all votes.)

Residents can also vote through the web by visiting NRPA.org/BeInspired. At the end of April, the local park project with the most votes will receive grant funding. Also, everyone who votes will enter a drawing for a tablet outfitted for the outdoors.

Last year, Miami-Dade County voters chose the Ojus Park Disabilities Services Safety Fence to win $20,000. “The Meet Me at the Park Grant provided the opportunity for the Camp Ojus program to become a safe, accessible, and nurturing environment for people of all abilities” said Laura Phillips, public information officer of Miami-Dade County Parks.

The funding was used to build a new fence along the front entrance and surrounding sides of the community center within Ojus Park. Thanks to the new fence, the community is now able to enjoy a safe space for the children of the afterschool program to engage in sports and other activities. The safety and accessibility upgrades at Ojus Park bring endless possibilities for learning, social engagement, and physical activities for the Camp Ojus participants and community members, Phillips said.

The impact of the grant will be a lasting one in the hearts and minds of all those able to reap the benefits of the new Ojus Park recreational facility,” she said.

The national Meet Me at the Park, an initiative that started in 2014, improves local parks through projects that connect residents to nature, inspire healthy living and provide access to sports. In 2016, more than 200,000 people were impacted by Meet Me at the Park projects nationwide.

“Supporting local parks is essential to the health and vitality of communities everywhere,” said Lori Robertson, conservation director for the National Recreation and Park Association.

The NRPA is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 52,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space.

The association and Disney have worked jointly on previous projects that yielded great success to local communities. This year, they will award more than $600,000 to the Meet Me in the Park campaign nationwide. “We encourage everyone to join us in giving back to the places that shape so much of our lives by voting in this year’s Meet Me at the Park campaign,” Robertson said.

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