Park district celebrates Welcoming Week

Local News

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The Urbana Park District closed out their Welcoming Week events Sunday by giving out COVID-19 kits in Northwood Estates.

The new ‘Urvana’ Mobile Recreation Unit has been busy this week. For the past week the Park District has been traveling to forgotten neighborhoods as a way to connect the community during Welcoming Week. What was most important was being able to go to this places and meet them at their homes.

“Just kind of trying to the people rather than just saying, ‘Oh hey come out to one of our facilities and get it,'” says Elsie Hedgspeth. “That’s not as easily accessible.”

They sought the help of family liaisons in the Urbana School District of which families they need to connect with the most. It is a move from the Park District they know will be appreciated by the Latino communities they are reaching out to.

“We’re often overlooked,” says Mitzy Maldonado. “Knowing someone’s making the effort to come out and say, ‘Hi! We’re here. We’re wanting to help. We want to invite you to our environment and our programs.’ That’s a big help.”

On top of PPE and hand sanitizer in the COVID kits, the Park District included programming guides that were in Spanish for the first time. For some mono-lingual families they had no idea what the park district had to offer.

“We kind of cut out that work,” says Hedgspeth. “That information’s out there in different capacities from our website to our program guide. We really have to be actively looking for it. We cut out the work for them, put it all together in a guide and translated it into Spanish.”

The program also included different scholarships in Spanish for families. At the end the day, knowing they are welcome and a key part of the community is what the park district hopes the event imparts on people.

“Knowing that they are welcome, that we care about them,” says Maldonado. “That there is somebody outside of us, Latinos in the school district, there are other people in other organizations that care about them.”

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