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Access to parks and green space makes people healthier and helps them to live more fulfilled lives. That was the conclusion of a series of recent reports on urban parks summarized by the National Recreation and Park Association. Here in Foster City, we have a large number of parks and green space close at hand. In fact, there are so many trees here that Kevin Miller, the director of the Foster City Parks and Recreation Department, calls them an “urban forest.” No one in Foster City can go very far without seeing some green, and we are better off for it.
But not all communities are so lucky. I recently visited a youth program in San Gregorio called Vida Verde. Nestled in the coastal forest just south of Half Moon Bay, this organization provides a three day nature experience for disadvantaged inner city kids aged 10 to 12. The students come with their classmates and teachers, live in teepees, take walks through the forest and visit the ocean. For most of them, this is the first time they have ever been out of the city, even though there often are forests and beaches in state and local parks just a few minutes drive from where they live. The kids find the experience exciting and fun. The teachers I talked to report that they use the Vida Verde experience for months and sometime years afterward in the classroom, and that it gives the kids a new appreciation of science, learning and the outdoors. After completing the program, the kids often ask their parents to take them to parks. They have a new appreciation for the natural world. I grew up in Connecticut in the middle of a forest and have always felt at home in the woods. Being around trees relaxes me and makes me less stressed. Now these kids can have a similar experience.
My experience visiting Vida Verde led me to think about how lucky I am to live here in Foster City where I can appreciate nature on a daily basis. More importantly, the kids who live here can also have that experience. The parks we have are critical to the livability of our community. From the pedway along the bay to the many parks along the lagoon to the playing fields in our communities, the parks make Foster City a place where we can feel at home with both the urban and natural worlds. In this way, we can all live happier, healthier lives.
The Parks and Recreation Citizen’s Advisory Committee is made up of eleven volunteers who work with the Parks and Recreation department to make our parks the best they can be, and advise the city council on matters related to parks and recreation. We support the department’s theme of “Parks Make Life Better” by conducting the annual Levee Safety Day, working at the summer concert series, and generally being ambassadors of the parks and recreation programs to the people of our city. We want to make sure that our parks continue to be the best in the region for many years to come.
Please address any questions or comments to Kevin Miller, Director of Parks and Recreation (650) 286-3388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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