Physical Activity Sector
The parks and green spaces in 78744 and 78745 have historically been underfunded, leaving most neighborhood parks effectively unusable. Lack of lighting has invited crime, lack of amenities has discouraged utilization, and lack of programming has prevented resident engagement in parks.
To increase physical activity access and utilization in these neighborhoods, GAVA works with 15 resident-led teams across the two zip codes to bring improvements to their local parks and green spaces. GAVA's physical activity sector organizer is housed at our partner organization, Austin Parks Foundation, and she helps teams improve inadequate infrastructure, beautify & maintain parks, and develop sustainable, equitable funding sources to improve physical activity access in the zip codes.
Through the Adopt-a-Park program, residents and neighborhood leaders have officially formed park adoption teams for eight city-owned parks and four Austin Independent School District park sites in 78744 and 78745. They are also stewarding four ¼-mile (or more) stretches of greenbelt along Williamson Creek.
In the 2016 fiscal year budget, GAVA teams collaborated with Austin's Parks and Recreation Department to move City Council to allocate $1.15 million in park infrastructure improvements despite a tough budget year. 50% of these funds helped build improved play infrastructure in two GAVA parks: Ponciana Park (top left picture) and Odom Elementary School Park (bottom right picture).
In 2016, GAVA teams worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to install water fountains, signage, benches, bathrooms, lights, playscapes, irrigation, sidewalks, and community gardens in green spaces across the zip codes. Resident advocates leveraged millions of dollars in much-needed basic infrastructure improvements, resulting in a measured increase of utilization in these spaces by 15%-30% across 15 sites.
GAVA youth also raised funds to install permanent soccer goals in their parks and petitioned for an expansion of the Police Activity League (PAL) soccer programming to their zip codes. The adolescents also formed their own teams to coach younger students not served by the PAL program.