After more than seven years of community advocacy and public/private collaboration the families of a very park-poor area can now enjoy their first park/community Center, Familias Corazones Verdes “Greenheart Families” Park & Community Center. In one of America’s most dense neighborhoods, where obesity and diabetes are at near epidemic levels, Latino Health Access together with community leaders, developed a $3.6 million park and 3,000-square foot community center with a demonstration kitchen, half basketball court, children’s playground, jungle gym, walking path and restrooms.
Active living, interaction of residents with neighbors and pedestrian circulation are all critical behaviors for the physical, mental and socio/economic health of populations in urban areas. In the absence of opportunities for access to safe open space families are becoming more sedentary and isolated. Residents are afraid of walking the streets after certain hours, reducing city and community life to a minimum. California cities average 5 acres open space per 1,000 persons. Santa Ana has a mere 0.9 acres of open space per 1,000 people. In central Santa Ana, the lack of open space in conjunction with impoverished living conditions and a lack of public safety are barriers to active lifestyles and healthy living. These residents not only suffer from lack of open space but are also afflicted with related health issues such as diabetes and obesity.