play / 2021
All Aboard for Nature Community Access Program
All Aboard for Nature will provide equitable and sustainable access to Los Angeles’ natural areas for targeted low-income families to our local mountains, regional parks, and beaches. We will provide a total of 10 free trips to Los Angeles’ natural areas and interpretive programming to more than 500 community members without access to a vehicle or public transportation, many of whom will visit our nearby public lands for the first time. Participants will be able to improve their physical and mental well-being by having access to nature.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
A recent survey finds the pandemic negatively impacts our long-term physical and mental health (undesired weight changes, changes in sleep patterns, delayed health care, and worsened stress and mental health). Access to nature helps us cope and heal. According to numerous experts, nature is an effective way to shake off the weight and hardships associated with stay-at-home orders and social isolation. Yet, Los Angeles communities and populations hit hardest by the pandemic are also the ones with least access to open space and parks. Only five existing transit lines serve any of Los Angeles’ mountain open space destinations; only 22% of the County lives within one-half mile of bus stops or routes that service beach parks; and it takes one hour or more for 60% of residents to get to the mountains. More than 90% of our participants (who are low-income residents) cite transportation as their greatest barrier to accessing nature. Our pandemic recovery requires equity in access to nature.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
All Aboard for Nature will provide a total of 10 free trips to Los Angeles’ natural areas and interpretive programming to more than 500 community members, with priority outreach to communities and populations most impacted by lack of access to natural spaces such as those living in East LA, the San Gabriel Valley, and the San Fernando Valley, many of whom will visit them for the first time. These very/high-park-need communities (defined by LAC Parks and Recreation needs assessment) are often urban, predominantly low-income, & people of color, and lack convenient and affordable transportation options. We also will focus on reaching system-impacted and frontline communities (formerly incarcerated, foster youth, factory workers, etc). Organizations serving system-impacted and frontline communities will help us with outreach. Trips will be to natural areas within 1-1 ½ hours from their homes to forests, beaches, and parks and ensure options for people of all abilities. Each trip includes a naturalist to guide the group & provide education/safety. Our materials will be available in multiple languages, and the naturalists will be bilingual. If COVID restrictions are in place, we will provide 45 trips using micro-transit vouchers or passenger vans for transportation. Families will be met at the destination by a California Naturalist using COVID guidelines to orient them to hiking trails and other natural features. Approximately 405 people will be served by these COVID-safe trips.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
A recent article in an AARP newsletter led with this statement: When your world gets small, nature lets you live large. Los Angeles will be a more healthy and equitable place to live if our work is successful. Those hardest hit by the pandemic’s physical impacts and stresses will have access to Los Angeles’ public lands to be able to connect with nature and find relief and healing from a traumatic time. They will be able to do so safely by being with their families socially distanced outdoors. They will learn about Los Angeles’ green spaces and be inspired to incorporate natural spaces into their lives and to want to learn how to advocate for increased local green space development, protection of nature, and more public transportation to the larger natural areas around Los Angeles for the future.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
This project addresses “Parks with intergenerational play opportunities” because natural lands and open spaces are places where all generations can enjoy recreational and educational activities; “Prevalence of trauma and adverse childhood experiences” because of nature’s healing and relaxation qualities; and “Obesity” because it is often a collaralary outcome for those that do not have access to play or nature. N4A will develop and use surveys and interviews to capture both quantitative and qualitative measures of our success. The survey will measure the number of people who participated, if they had a positive or beneficial experience on their access trip, what was learned, and if they show an interest in continuing to visit natural areas. Our program’s survey results show that over 82.8% surveyed state transportation is their biggest barrier to accessing nature (second was lack of information). Supervisor Sheila Kuehl committed to providing one shuttle per year for District 3.
Which of the play metrics will you impact?
- Prevalence of trauma and adverse childhood experiences
- Parks with intergenerational play opportunities