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Tot Parks and Stroller Trails Get a Boost

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Friday, April 13, 2012   

LOS ANGELES – Tot parks are getting a boost in the Southland. The First 5 LA Commission has approved nearly $12 million to develop and construct new parks and stroller trails specifically designed for young children. The money will also be used to improve existing parks, making them more toddler-friendly.

According to Francisco Oaxaca, First 5 LA's director of public affairs, the "Tot Parks and Trails" project is a response to the overwhelming concern about the issue of childhood obesity, especially for toddlers.

"We're hoping that this initial investment of $12 million over three years gets them and their families on the right track towards enhancing their level of physical activity, so they avoid the issues of obesity in later life."

Oaxaca says studies show up to 45 percent higher odds of obesity for children who lack access to sidewalks, parks or playgrounds. On Thursday, the commission approved some mini-grants so the projects can start as early as next month.

He adds some of the slated improvements include safer equipment.

"Particularly, equipment that is appropriate for younger children up to five years old; brighter lighting, additional or new security fencing, installation of trails that are appropriate for strollers, as far as the type of materials used for the trails."

Nearly a dozen parks, playgrounds and stroller trails will include modifications for young children with special needs.

Oaxaca says all communities will be engaged in a collaborative planning and design process to customize each park to the needs of local residents.

"There will be, definitely, quite a bit of community input into identifying what they see the needs for their parks are, and how those can be implemented."

There will be 36 projects, and nearly half will be located in designated "Best Start" communities, or those that have been identified as having the most needs.



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