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Kingwood, WV

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Park enhancements

Description: Although this project originally set out to expand social activities at Decker's Creek Park, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to pivot. Instead, the Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission made improvements to the park's green space to increase walkability and accessibility for park visitors. They added an accessible picnic table, raised garden beds, trash cans, an information kiosk and a wooden sign for the park. They also planted the garden beds with pollinator-friendly perennials, with plans to invite the local Master Gardeners to use the plots in the future. In addition, the Parks and Recreation Commission painted and replaced boards on the park's pedestrian bridge. Since these upgrades, the Commission reports more visitors to the park, as well as an uptick in youth volunteer service. Recent projects include a new picnic table, outdoor classroom, little free library and bench.

Pensacola, FL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Park enhancements

Description: Keep Pensacola Beautiful's mission is to beautify public parks in low-income neighborhoods. The nonprofit launched its Harmony Park program in Englewood Park with the installation of three interactive musical instruments -- two types of xylophones and a colorful drum set. This created an unusual, educational opportunity for play for children at the neighboring Boys and Girls Club, who benefit from music lessons at the site. KPB's executive director Sigrid Solgard stressed that no musical experience was necessary to play the instruments. The notes are supposed to sound good together in any combination, she said.

Bronx, NY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Park enhancements

Description: To highlight the importance of green spaces, Friends of Mosholu Parkland cleaned up a neglected area of the parkland. The area lies along the Mosholu Parkway, a landscaped highway connecting two parks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the gardens became a respite for community looking for a safe, outdoor gathering space. Volunteers expanded an azalea garden and revived the Jerome Garden Plaza. In addition, the organization worked with a local artist to design and install banners celebrating the Parkland. The banners played off the metaphor of an aquarium, which represented residents confined within their apartments during the COVID-19 pandemic, separated from the parkland below like fish behind a glass barrier. Project organizers say these initial improvements have since attracted additional investment in the Mosholu Parkland.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Honolulu, HI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Innovative home maintenance, repair and support services

Description: Oahu is home to many older adults hoping to age in place. However, aging homes can make this difficult. Working with Palolo Chinese Home, Age-Friendly Honolulu created the Safe Homes 4 Kapuna program, which provides aging-in-place education, as well as home assessments and modifications, to older adults in the Palolo Valley neighborhood. The program produced print and electronic versions of a booklet, called Hale4Kapuna. The publication includes tips about renters' rights, permitting processes, funding sources and types of home modifications beneficial for older adults, as well as information on home assessments and basic handyman work. The group also provided home assessments to six older adults residing in the Palolo Valley.

Honolulu, HI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: While Hawaii is known for beaches and lush mountains, many urban areas lack accessible green space. To give residents outdoor space, Better Block Hawaii planned, designed and installed two parklets in Honolulu's Kalihi neighborhood. Working with the City of Honolulu to identify areas of need, they installed the first parklet at Richie's Drive Inn, transforming a parking area into a mini park with tables, benches, planters and a mural. Parklets help local businesses extend their storefronts onto the sidewalk and boost revenue by creating cozy, inviting gathering places.

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