First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and California State Parks Foundation Visit Parks in LA Area in Effort to Increase Access to Parks for Youth, Underserved Communities

Tour was part of the Pathways to Parks Campaign, which aims to raise awareness of State parks as a public health solution and increase access to state parks for California’s underserved youth. 

February 12, 2020

Los Angeles, CA –  On the heels of announcing her new partnership with the Pathways to Parks advocacy initiative, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom met with members of the California State Parks Foundation, the State Parks Department, and stakeholders from the parks, health and youth sectors, to highlight the importance of increasing access to the outdoors as a public health solution, especially for underserved youth. 
 
“As First Partner, one of my main priorities is promoting the health and wellbeing of California’s children, and increasing equitable access to parks and the outdoors is a big part of that,” said First Partner Siebel Newsom. “Together with the California State Parks Foundation and the State Parks Department, it is our mission to ensure that every California Kid is able to enjoy the health, educational, and recreational benefits of our unique and diverse state parks, regardless of where they live.”  
 
“Access to California’s green spaces should be a fundamental right for everyone, and the parks in Los Angeles are no exception,” said Rachel Norton, Executive Director of California State Parks Foundation. “To ensure all Californians and every Angeleno can experience the health benefits parks provide, we are bringing together advocates and leaders throughout the state under the Pathways to Parks banner to break down existing barriers to access – whether they’re financial, cultural or geographical – so we can build a healthier next generation of Californians.”
 
To kick off the day, Siebel Newsom participated in a roundtable discussion at Los Angeles State Historic Park with stakeholders from over ten organizations, including Health Net, the Promotora Community Liaison Project, Outdoor Afro and National Parks Services’ Every Kid Outdoors. She then traveled to Will Rogers State Historic Park to meet with families participating in the Community Nature Connection program that is focused on bringing historically underserved communities who face barriers to parks into nature and public lands. The day concluded with a visit to Providence St. John Medical Center to meet with key partners and advocates on their pioneering initiatives already being employed in Los Angeles like the Nurture in Nature program which brings mental health clinicians together with youth in need to leverage the outdoors as a public health solution. 
 
“Today we had the unique opportunity to meet with the leaders and partners in the very parks and communities we are advocating for,” said Holly Martinez, Director of Programs and Advocacy, California State Parks Foundation. “These invaluable conversations put new tools in our toolbelt so we can tailor programs and policies that more effectively help those within arm’s reach of open space begin to experience the proven health and wellness benefits they provide.”
 
Many of the conversations were driven by the mounting research on the mental and physical health benefits that the outdoors provides. Recently published research from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and California State Parks Foundation demonstrates the opportunity that our state parks hold with findings illustrating that more than half of Californians under 18 live within close range of a state park. Additional data from the research including income and age demographics can be explored using an interactive map at https://www.calparks.org/what-were-doing/research/Map. This data and corresponding map clearly highlight parks as a tremendous and potentially underutilized resource to promote youth health across the state. 
 
More information on the Pathways to Parks campaign can be found at https://www.calparks.org/what-were-doing/pathways