On the morning of April 29, 2015, more than 60 community partners and 20 students joined together to hear why the removal of a fence made a big impact in the Chula Vista community.
Harborside Park is a local park built in a commercial area, behind Harborside Elementary School, Costco and Walmart, and directly next to the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) South Region office. Starting in 2010, the park began to experience a noticeable increase in unsafe activity including excessive gang activity, vandalism and graffiti, and illegal drug use with hypodermic needles left in the park. Furthermore, there was a fenced-in area on the northeast end of the field next to Harborside Elementary School and behind Costco that was a hot spot for the illegal activity - a space where people could hide out of sight of law enforcement.
In 2014, after connecting at the Harborside Park Safety and Revitalization Collaborative, representatives from Costco and Harborside Elementary School decided they wanted to do something to alleviate the safety concerns in their community. They agreed to remove the fenced-in area of the park in early 2015. This change gave Harborside Elementary additional playground space that students now use for physical activity.
At the April 29 event to celebrate the success of partnership, County Supervisor Greg Cox and Health and HHSA Director Nick Macchione reinforced the importance of safety and how it aligns with the Live Well San Diego vision. They also emphasized the power of working together for stronger impact.
Additional speakers included Superintendent Francisco Escobedo of the Chula Vista Elementary School District and Assistant Manager Martha Becerra of Costco, who shared how important it is for community partners to stay vested in seeing Harborside Park remain a safe place for children, families and staff. Kristi McClure Huckaby, Director of the City of Chula Vista Recreation Department, along with Captain Roxanne Kennedy, addressed the City’s role in helping keep the park safe. Specifically, McClure Huckaby acknowledged the City of Chula Vista’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation Departments for their efforts to bring programs such as “Empower Hour” to the park. These activities help increase park usage and thereby create more “eyes on the park,” helping keep dangerous activities out.
The April event also marked the official release of the 2014 data from the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s BMI Surveillance Project. For Harborside Elementary School, this report brought great news: the number of their students in the normal weight range increased from 46.5% in 2010 to 54% in 2014 - a 7.5% increase. Even more, they saw an 8.9% drop in students in the obese category, which are significant results. While these positive changes cannot be attributed to a single factor, it is clear that joint efforts are helping creating healthy school environments and healthy and safe communities.
For more information, contact Tina Emmerick.