The City of Mission recently launched a new program for volunteer groups to help keep the city’s parks clean and safe. Director of Parks and Recreation Penn Almoney said the goal of the program is to offer “exposure to one of Mission’s greatest resources: its outdoor parks.”
“Anytime you see more people at a park, it kind of gives you that sense of safety and connection within the community,” Almoney said. “Our ultimate goal is to foster community through this program and try to connect people.”
Volunteer groups, such as youth groups or local non-profits, can reach out to the parks and recreation department about which park the group would like to adopt and the process moves forward from there, Almoney said. Then beautification projects are discussed and outlined, and the groups commit to completing projects at least six times within one year.
Girl Scout Troop #942, the first participant in the program, adopted Waterworks Park, 5814 53rd Street. Troop Leader Suzie Legg said the troop chose to partner with Mission as a way for the scouts to earn their silver award, which looks for an issue to take action on within the community. When Legg heard about the Adopt a Park program, she said it was an opportunity for both community involvement and civic engagement.
“It’s been a really good opportunity for our girls to see how there’s different parts in the city — different groups of adults — that do different things, and how to advocate,” she said. “It’s giving them an opportunity to see how they can be engaged in their community, even as adults, and do that in a positive way.”
A launch event was held on Oct. 15 to honor the girl scouts and promote the program to passersby, Almoney said. Each girl scout and a lone cub scout signed a pledge that is posted at the Waterworks Park kiosk for public viewing, which offers a sense of civic engagement and pride for the cub and girl scouts, Almoney said.
Additionally, the scouts went through basic training prior to the event. The main project for Waterworks is painting the playground retention wall, so the scouts were trained on how close to paint to the grass as well as how to properly use rakes and shovels. Legg said a couple of the projects the troop will undertake throughout the year include basic monitoring of the park and helping install tree identification plaques.
While troop #942 lead the initiative, Legg said the adoption of the park is for the entire scout community at Rushton Elementary School. As the current sixth grade girls of troop #942 go on to middle school, the other troops at Rushton can continue to adopt Waterworks Park.
“It’s a pretty great partnership,” Almoney said. “It increases the number of eyes that are on the park and the standards that we want to have, in terms of caring and keeping the park beautiful for the neighborhood.”