Youth Council Secure 1M for Henwood Park

Youth Council

Youth Council members and Mid-City CAN staff were at City Hall on June 7 for the FY25 budget modification hearing to advocate for funding for the youth's City Heights Urban Village Revitalization Campaign that includes Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park.

Thank you to Karlita, Obidullah, Salma, Judith, Nidal, Lucerito, and Mid-City CAN intern Alex for attending the budget hearing -- it was the first day of summer break for the youth and they chose to spend their first day off at City Hall. Thank you to Janelle and Alex for preparing statements to be read, and to Youth Council members unable to attend who worked hard on the campaign.

The following are the youth's statements to the councilmembers. Youth Organizer Victor Ponce spoke first followed by the youth.

Good Morning Councilmembers,

My name is Victor Ponce and I am the Lead Organizer at Mid-City CAN and have been the main lead and supporter for our Youth Council since they decided to take on this campaign to revitalize Henwood Park.

I’ve had youth from not just City Heights, but have also had youth from Clairemont, North Park, Sherman Heights, Allied Gardens, and Paradise Hills all in our office coming together on their Friday after school to stay updated and learn how our city's budget process works and how we can get funding for this project.

We consistently have over 20 youth joining us week in and week out because this is an issue that they care and are passionate about. We’ve consistently been having meetings with the Parks and Rec leadership team every month to see how we can help push this along as soon as possible because truth be told I don’t know if we can wait another 15-20 years like some of the other park projects that I’ve learned about. We are also now on the City Heights Community Rec Group and CHAPC trying to be as hands on as we can be.

From the meetings from Parks and Rec, we’ve learned that the budget that’s currently allocated will only take us as far as redoing the toddler playground, but it doesn’t even touch the other playground or any of the grass areas. We are working with Andy and his team to ensure we have a huge turnout to the parks design workshops, but it will all be for nothing if we don’t have the funding in hand this upcoming fiscal year.

So I am asking you all to please fully restore funding to the Climate Equity Fund as many of you did in your budget memos and to include Henwood Park as part of that funding allocation.

Thank you.

Hello, my name is Alexander and I am a resident of District 6 and am here with Mid-City CAN's Youth Council. I am here to speak on behalf of Officer Jeremy Henwood Park which I’ve learned about since I was introduced to Mid-City CAN.

I learned that the park is a focal point of this community yet has gone neglected and forgotten about. By funding this park, you would be creating a place for the future of our city to gather and socialize.

Having access to parks in my community has enabled me to socialize and learn Tae Kwon Do. Park space access has also enabled me to have safe social contact during the pandemic.

Providing a safe public restrooms to the community would protect everyone’s dignity and is a basic necessity.

I ask: 'Is an updated play structure and working restroom too much to ask for?'

Thank You.

Good morning councilmembers, my name is Karla Navarro. Lucerito who is standing behind me and I just graduated from Hoover High School last night and picked up our diplomas this morning.

That’s what I’m holding here as I stand in front of you. I say this to emphasize the importance of what being here in community means to me. After much resilience and dedication and after finding myself in the position of not knowing to do as a career, I feel like I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the support and guidance of orgs like Mid-City CAN, Youth Will, the Women’s Foundation in California, and the CBA (Community Budget Alliance) for investing their time in me and allowing me to participate in their programs. They took me when I had no prior experience or understanding and shaped me to how I am today. This diploma not only shows my academic accomplishment, but it represents all my skills and representation of my community. I stand in front of you on behalf of my community. City Heights has been my home for seventeen years. Teralta Park is where I first learned how to use a swing but as well took my first falls. I would earn my education from our local schools Central Elementary Wilson Middle School and Hoover High School.

However, I also need to see an investment from you all into not only me but our youth and our community. Because we don’t end here. Every year more kids are enrolling into our schools and with all the new housing developments we need to give our families a welcoming space. I want to be able to give all the kids in my community the same opportunities I was given and many more. To know what it is like to have a support system behind them and to know that someone is proud of them of achieving what they choose to do. From the support and education our youth programming has provided such as Mid-City CAN, because they are why I stand in front of you today.

That is why I am asking that you all fully fund the Climate Equity Fund to fund projects like Officer Jeremy Henwood Park. Now that includes you Joe LaCava, Jennifer Campbell, Stephen Whitburn, and Marni von Wilpert. While this issue doesn’t directly benefit your community don’t you care for our youth? Do you want us to succeed? We need to see that you hear us and see us. Thank you.

Anthony's statement read by Salma:

Good morning councilmembers,

My name is Anthony and I am 17 years old and a part of Mid-City CAN’s Youth Council. Today we're here to speak on behalf of our Youth Council as well as community partners from the CBA.

Firstly, I'd like to express my utmost appreciation for the councilmembers that supported us last budget cycle and again those 4 of your who added us into your May Budget Memos released publicly this week. I'd also like to thank you for giving me this platform to speak today. We are here to address our regards for the current budget cuts, as well as inform you of their impact on our youth programs and community parks.

City Heights is a very well-orchestrated community, it's not only vibrant but also diverse. Our parks are at the heart of City Heights, they serve as a means for families to come together and gather, a place for children to play, and most importantly a main host for community events that bring us all together. They go to foster a sense of well-being and belonging for all residents.

However, the budget at hand will undermine said vital community resources. The budget cuts will be the byproduct of reduced improvements and maintenance for our parks, which we already have very little of. Making them less welcoming and ultimately unsafe.

Henwood Park and other community parks in our area already contend with other conflicts such as poor lightning, broken facilities, and inadequate playgrounds. These conditions make it sophisticated for families to be able to use and enjoy these spaces.

Additionally, the budget cuts will severely impact youth programs that are essential for the establishment and good-being of our youth. Programs that provide community engagement opportunities are on the chopping block. Programs like these aren't only beneficial, but they play a main role in helping our youth build a brighter future.

We, Mid-City CAN’s Youth Council, are asking you, our city council representatives, to hear our community's voice. First we request that you fully restore the Climate Equity Fund and use it to allocate $2.5 million towards our revitalization project to help maintain and improve our community park, and to ensure that they remain safe and accessible for everyone. We also urge you to preserve funding for youth programs that help with community involvement, and education.

Investing in our youth programs and parks is investing in the future of City Heights. Because, when we provide safe and well-maintained parks, we are creating areas where children can play, families can come together, and the community can gather. When we endow youth programs, we are giving our youth the tools that they need to nourish and succeed. Our community warrants a budget that supports the safety, health, and growth of our residents. We need a budget that invests in our parks and our youth.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Let's work together to create a brighter future for San Diego.

Janelle's statement was read by Belen (NOTE: ran out of minutes)

Hello, my name is Janelle and I am a here as part of Mid-City CAN's Youth Council.

I am also a recently elected member of the City Heights Area Planning Committee better known as CHAPC and am honored to serve on it as one of its two youth representatives.

I decided to run for this seat because I believe that young people have a unique perspective to bring to the table, and I wanted to be a part of the decision-making process in my community. As a member of this board I have the privilege of sitting alongside other community leaders in making decisions that affect our neighborhood. I also have the responsibility of ensuring that the needs and concerns of young people are heard and addressed. I have this power and responsibility the same way you all have the power to make changes to the city's budget.

That is why I am here today to ask all of you to use your power to fully fund the Climate Equity Fund and allocate funding for the next phase of Henwood Park.

While some of you up there might be able to easily drive and travel to a park in a nicer part of town that isn’t always true for our community. Our community is reliant on public transportation that isn’t always fast or efficient so we tend to stay and go to the park spaces within our community.

Henwood Park is a vital green space in our community that provides a welcoming place for young people to play, learn, and connect with one another.

However, it is currently in need of renovations and upgrades to make it more accessible and sustainable. By allocating funding for the next phase of Henwood Park, we can ensure that this important community resource is preserved and enhanced for generations to come.

We need to take bold action to address the climate crisis that we are facing, and we need to do it in a way that prioritizes equity and justice.

As a young person who has been entrusted with the power to make decisions about our community's future, I urge you to use your power to prioritize climate action and community development. We need your leadership and commitment to create a better future for all of us, particularly for young people who are growing up in our community.

Thank you.

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  • Ron Sanchez
    published this page 2024-06-12 14:55:18 -0700