The Ford/LaSalle Park Revitalization Committee has teamed up with Summer in the City volunteers and University of Michigan’s Cultivating Community group to provide fun activities for children in the Focus: HOPE neighborhood this summer. Every Wednesday from June until August kids will meet at the Ford/LaSalle Park for reading, games and gardening at the Focused Hands Community Garden.
“The purpose of this program is to make a community gathering space that is safe and family friendly,” said Stephanie Johnson-Cobb, project leader. “We’re really trying to revitalize not only this space, but our entire community.”
On July 13, activities began with kids pairing off into reading groups with volunteers. While some kids played on the playscape and basketball court others participated in arts and crafts at picnic tables.
After playing in the park, the group walked to the community garden where Catriona Mortell-Windecker, staff coordinator of Cultivating Communities, led them in weed pulling, watering plants and picking up trash in the surrounding area. She taught them how to maintain a healthy garden and gave them basic gardening tips such as how to identify a weed among plants.
The kids were also able to harvest vegetables grown in the garden. They tasted tomatoes and string beans while some gathered enough to take home.
Summer in the City volunteers are excited to be a part of the program. Every week they come to Ford/LaSalle Park and adopt a buddy to play with for the day.
"I think it’s very important to get communities together, to get neighbors out and interacting and creating a healthy environment for families, “said Abby Hunter, a Summer in the City volunteer.
Near the end of the half-day program, kids ate lunch and snacks provided by Forgotten Harvest.
The program is one of many yearly activities the committee hosts at the Ford/LaSalle Park. Community Day, a back-to-school event featuring food, fun and school supplies, is held in September, and Angel’s Day is held in October, which includes Halloween games and candy.
The Ford/LaSalle Park Revitalization Committee is part of Focus: HOPE’s HOPE Village Initiative, a plan to revitalize the community surrounding Focus: HOPE’s campus by offering opportunities and support with a focus on education.