Expanding Outdoor Space by Empowering Youth in San Diego

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Casa Familiar trains youth in San Ysidro to become advocates and environmental stewards in the community as part of its 2018 Opening the Outdoors grant project.

As we know from the Our Greater San Diego Vision study, access and enjoyment of nature is one of the most important values shared among San Diegans of all ages.

From the beaches and bays, to the mountains and desert, the quality of life our region offers is widely defined by its natural beauty and interconnected system of parks and natural areas. This is why it’s so important to invest in our parks and natural spaces in order to continue strengthening quality of life for current and future generations.

The Parks for Everyone report found that many low-income, ethnically diverse communities in San Diego have limited access to parks and open spaces. San Ysidro is one such location.

According to the Parks for All Californians study, San Ysidro has only one-tenth of the recommended acres of park space per resident.

Casa Familiar is working to change that.

Thanks to support through the Opening the Outdoors 2018 grant cycle, Casa Familiar is fostering the next generation of environmental and park stewards in San Diego in an effort to advocate for increased park space in South County.

As part of its work, Casa Familiar is collaborating with Bayside Community Center and Arboreta Group to empower young residents in San Ysidro to actively engage in creating a more vibrant, healthy neighborhood through the development of a new Beyer Community Park. Beyer Community Park is a project of the city of San Diego to develop a new 8-acre park on a large, vacant lot in San Ysidro.

By offering leadership training and environmental educational, students in the community are learning about the impact they can have within the community when they are engaged and informed.

For example, participants recently attended a SANDAG public hearing about a local initiative where they had the opportunity to learn about the details of the project, present their opinions and concerns, and ask questions of the elected leaders.

As one of the youth participants stated, “The Casa Familiar program has taught me that advocating together as a community increases the chances of achieving meaningful change in the community.”

Thanks to the Opening the Outdoors grant, more youth in San Ysidro are becoming active participants in advancing quality of life for the entire community. And who better to serve as spokespeople for the future than today’s youth.

These San Ysidro  children and teens will go on to be active participants in the development and design of Beyer Community Park, as well as other initiatives in the future.

Join Us

The San Diego Foundation is currently accepting Letters of Interest (LOI) from nonprofit organizations working to protect and connect outdoor spaces and improve equitable access to the outdoors.

Does your organization have a project that is advancing quality of life, especially for our park-poor and underserved communities?

Submit your LOI here by March 6 to be considered for a 2019 Opening the Outdoors grant.

Learn More