You are here

Safe Routes to School National Partnership Selects Elizabeth River Project to Help Improve Local Park Access

Portsmouth, VA – March 1, 2019 —From a competitive pool of nationwide applicants, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has selected Elizabeth River Project to join Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities, a technical assistance program focused on improving safe and equitable local park access. As part of the program, Portsmouth will be among ten diverse communities across the country to receive training and coaching from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership to develop an action plan for improving active travel to local parks and green spaces and implement early actions from the plan. The initiative is funded by The JPB Foundation.

Safe Routes to Parks initiatives work to improve safety and security for people walking, bicycling, and rolling to parks and green spaces. This need is especially pronounced in neighborhoods and communities lacking infrastructure to support safe walking and bicycling; where violence and crime are prevalent; and where high rates of weight-related chronic disease are prevalent. The Elizabeth River Project will work with the City and community partners to improve access to Paradise Creek Nature Park. Touted as a 40-acre “urban oasis,” the park offers many fitness opportunities including hiking trails through wetlands and forest, outdoor programs and a new “Edible Park” initiative for free foraging of fruit, but is separated from nearby neighborhoods by a busy highway.

The Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program aims to remove barriers that make it hard for people to enjoy the physical, social, and mental health benefits that parks offer and proactively work toward ensuring safe, secure access to parks and open spaces. Over the long term, with increased safety and accessibility, Safe Routes to Parks seeks to increase park usage and improve health for people of all ages, races, abilities, and income levels.

“We are super-excited about this opportunity for working with national experts to make Paradise Creek Nature Park truly accessible to the community,” said Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Executive Director, Elizabeth River Project. A project kick-off is planned March 28 with a “walkability audit” in the afternoon and a community forum from 6 pm – 8 pm at the park’s new Fred W. Beazley River Academy, 1141 Victory Blvd. For more information or to participate, rsvp to mmayfield@elizabethriver.org.

About Elizabeth River Project The Elizabeth River Project, www.elizabethriver.org, is a non-profit leading the environmental restoration of the Elizabeth River since 1993 through collaboration with citizens, business and government. Elizabeth River Project purchased the land for Paradise Creek Nature Park, raised the funds for park amenities and operates education and volunteer programs at the park relating to environmental restoration and appreciation. The City of Portsmouth maintains the site as its third largest public park.

About the Safe Routes to School National Partnership

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership advances safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, to improve the health and wellbeing of kids of all races, income levels and abilities, and to foster the creation of healthy communities for everyone. For more information, please visit saferoutespartnership.org.