Dorchester Backyards Project Celebrated (MA)

August 10, 2006
Massachusetts

Dorchester, MA - Youth made a strong showing in their victory over the Adults at a kickball invitational Thursday at the future Elmhurst Street Park in Codman Square, winning 20-4.

"I thought they'd be too slow to beat us youth, and I was right!" laughed Elienid (Tutu) Ramos, a youth leader and kickball player.

The Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer Whitfield Parks, a neighborhood group working to create two new playgrounds in Codman Square, sponsored the tournament as part of The Big Event, a closing ceremony for a series of youth programs this summer in support of the future Elmhurst Street and Spencer-Whitfield playgrounds.

The evening began with a kickball tournament where the youth had challenged Mt. Washington Bank, scheduled to open a branch in Codman Square during the summer of 2007, and other adults to a match. After the kickball tournament, the youth team presented a play and poems they wrote this summer. Mt. Washington Bank also presented a $3,000 check for the summer programming to The Boston Project Ministries, a member of the Friends who coordinated and ran the program all summer long.

Ed Merritt, President of Mt. Washington Bank and tournament umpire, said "Mt. Washington Bank is delighted to be joining the Codman Square neighborhood. This future park is really bringing people together and we are honored to be a part of it., We want to thank the Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer Whitfield Parks, especially their youth members, for their hard work making this dream a reality."

Dorcas Dunham, representing the Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer-Whitfield Parks, said, "We want to thank all the volunteers and residents, other members of the Friends, and the City of Boston for making this day possible. As we keep showing how our future park can help children and families come together, we'll get that much closer to building it!"

David Queeley, director of The Trust for Public Land's Parks for People-New England, a program that is helping coordinate the parks project, said, "Seeing young people and their families enjoying exercise and fun together makes the value of these parks real. That's what we're all working for, and The Trust for Public Land wants to thank the City of Boston, Mt. Washington Bank, and the Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer-Whitfield Parks-especially The Boston Project and the Codman Square NDC-for being on this winning team."

The Big Event brought closure to summer programs for youth sponsored by The Boston Project Ministries and the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation as members of the Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer-Whitfield Parks. The Friends are working to build two new playgrounds, or "Neighborhood Backyards," in Dorchester's Codman Square neighborhood: one at Elmhurst Street and the other between Spencer and Whitfield streets at Aspinwall Road. The Neighborhood Backyards will transform vacant land there into two non-traditional playgrounds with play areas, art, spray fountains, play equipment, swing sets, picnic tables, and lawns.

For more than 30 years, residents have volunteered their time and energy to regularly clear and mow the vacant land, design the playgrounds, and sponsor play and awareness days in support of the playgrounds. Now the Friends are working to keep the spaces clean and active while they raise the money for construction. The future parks will be owned by the Boston Department of Parks and Recreation.

Because Codman Square has one of the lowest ratios of open space per child in Boston, the Friends of Elmhurst and Spencer Whitfield Parks sponsor activities in Codman Square to raise fund for and awareness about the future playgrounds, engage neighbors in planning for their community, and offer young people healthy play, encouragement, and supportive direction. Members of the Friends include residents, The Boston Project Ministries, the Codman Square Health Center, the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition, and The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the City of Boston.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact Daria Ovide at The Trust for Public Land: (617) 367-6200 x330 or daria.ovide@tpl.org.

Note to editors: For an electronic map or photograph of the property, contact Daria Ovide at (617) 666-3799.