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‘First 5 LA’ and LA Conservation Corps Fight Childhood Obesity at Padelford Park in Artesia

Kids play on the new "See Saw" at Padleford Park in Artesia.  Kristin Grafft Photo and Article

Kids play on the new “See Saw” at Padleford Park in Artesia. Kristin Grafft Photo and Article

By Kristin Grafft

New parks aimed at fighting childhood obesity in children under the age of five are popping up throughout the district, thanks to First 5 LA and the LA Conservation Corps.

On Tuesday, July 23, the city of Artesia celebrated the grand opening of the “Tot Lot” at A.J. Padelford Park with fruit, popsicles and playtime. Mayor Sally Flowers and council members joined families from around the area in celebrating the new addition to their community.

Karen Robertson-Fall, the program officer for First 5 LA, explained that one of the goals of First 5 LA is to help children maintain a healthy weight. “Research has shown that physical activity is key for children to maintain a healthy weight,” she said.

However, it is very important for the opportunities for physical activity to be close and easily accessible. To address this issue, First 5 LA came up with the “Tot Parks & Trails Program.”

“This area has 6,000 children under the age of five within a two mile radius of this park, and by investing in this park we have provided an opportunity for over 6,000 kids to maintain their weight just by playing.” Robertson-Fall said.

Using the grant provided by First 5 LA, the LA Conservation Corps has teamed up with Amigos de los Rios, Rails to Trails, The Children’s Nature Institute, and The Better World Group to revitalize and revamp a total of 10 parks within LA County’s Fourth Supervisorial District. All parks are aimed specifically towards the needs of children under the age of five and their families.

Robertson-Fall explained that all the play structures were made deliberately with five year olds in mind, “so that when they play they’re working their lower muscles as well as hand-eye coordination.” Something, she said, that is very important at that age.

Every detail has been taken into account, from the material used to accommodate their soft bones to “hiding places” for autistic children.

There is also a bounce structure to “wear the kids out,” that can additionally be used as an effective behavior modification strategy according to Robertson-Fall. She explained that parents could teach their kids to “jump it out” when they are frustrated or angry instead of taking it out on other kids.

The project also targets the health needs of moms by providing stroller-friendly walking paths throughout the parks.

“We’re looking at providing a safe environment for families to hang out and walk with strollers,” said Dan Knapp, the deputy director of LA Conservation Corps.

“It’s all about healthy living and starting off on the right foot,” he said.

The “new” A.J. Padelford Park is now open to the public and can be found at 11870 169th Street in Artesia.