Field of Work: Obesity and recreation in an inner-city community.
Problem Synopsis: Martin Luther King Park, in south Los Angeles, was notoriously unsafe—parents did not even want their children walking past it, let alone playing there. But the neighborhood also had high rates of obesity and related illnesses and project organizers recognized the park as a potential asset.
Synopsis of the Work: The Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment guided efforts to clean up the park as a Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE) project. CCHE aims to curb childhood obesity using community organizing to advocate for policy changes in communities of color.
Key Results: Project staff and local volunteers identified problem businesses surrounding the park, including two liquor stores, two motels and a recycling center. Under pressure from the community, City Council agreed to impose safety-related conditions on one of the liquor stores.
Combined with community-driven park clean-up and beautification activities, and the addition of youth-focused recreational and arts activities, Martin Luther King Park has come back to life. Now there is ballet and soccer where once there was drugs and mayhem.