A park unites the most diverse square block in Denver
For the hundreds of children and families that live nearby, New Freedom Park in east Denver truly lives up to its name. Most of these families are refugees who came to America from war-torn nations like Afghanistan, Burma, and Nepal. For them, the park represents a fresh start in their new home.
While neighbors here speak many languages, they shared a common goal: to transform the local vacant lot—two-acres of trash, weeds, and broken glass—into a park that would serve the community. The Trust for Public Land helped bring this vision to life, creating a vibrant gathering space complete with state-of-the-art playground equipment, a soccer field, and a 50-plot garden where young mothers from Somalia and Burundi harvest pumpkins and peppers alongside grandfathers from Bhutan. Residents named the park “New Freedom,” expressing their wishes for a better life.
“We left my country because people were dying—killing each other,” says New Freedom gardener Neema Irakiza. “Today, all of this around us makes me so, so happy.”
Denver photojournalist Corky Scholl was so inspired by the New Freedom story that he spent the last year and half chronicling park life for the local news station, 9NEWS. "Photojournalism is a way to give a voice to the voiceless,” Scholl says. “With our cameras, we can allow people from diverse communities a chance to have their ideas heard."