Heaven Sent

It’s nine o’clock in the morning in eastern Los Angeles and the California sun is shining bright. Excitement fills the air at Before the Bell Rings Child Care as twelve small children pack their wagons with snacks, toys, and balls for the short walk to their new playground at El Sereno Arroyo Playground. They’ll spend three hours there—as they do every morning—running, laughing, and playing on the new swings and slides. But this wasn’t always how they spent their days: a short while ago, the only outdoor space they had was a small patch of yard, not even big enough to kick a ball around.

“It’s important to us that the kids get to run and play and enjoy the outdoors, and there was nowhere for them to do that before the park,” says Margie Huitron, owner of the home-based daycare.

In El Sereno, as in many neighborhoods in Los Angeles, green space is scarce. In an area bursting at the seams with children under five years old, that’s a real problem. Seeking a solution, neighbors like Huitron turned to The Trust for Public Land for help turning a barren one-acre eyesore into a safe, green playground specially designed for the neighborhood’s many young children. Our city and community partners were able to negotiate with the landowner to secure a long-term lease for the property. After we secured a grant and many donations for the playground, fencing, and other costs, construction work began on El Sereno Arroyo Playground—and was completed in just four months.

Decorative fencing surrounds the play area and separates it from the street, so kids can run freely without the worry of them wandering off. Walking paths circle the park, perfect for strollers. Huitron and her employees can also work out on The Trust for Public Land Fitness Zone equipment while keeping an eye on the kids—something she says is a huge bonus.

“There’s something for everyone,” says Margie. “The kids can’t wander off, we can walk the dog, stroll the babies, and get some exercise on the fitness machines. It’s a win-win-win situation.”

“The park was heaven sent,” she continues, “It’s the greatest thing that could have happened to the neighborhood.”