KidsWalk-event-brings-recreation-leadership-advocates-to-the-table

KidsWalk event brings recreation leadership, advocates to the table

Recreation moved indoors on a rainy spring day as the KidsWalk Coalition hosted its latest Breakfast Roundtable Series event with the New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission and Foundation. Building outstanding facilities, partnering with community groups to provide programs, and leveraging private investment were discussed at the event held Thursday, March 22 at Mike's on the Avenue in downtown New Orleans.

The roundtable discussion and question-and-answer event gave over 30 local community and children’s advocates and public health professionals the chance to directly speak with NORD Commission Executive Director Vic Richard and NORD Foundation Executive Director Annie LaRock. It was the first time the two new executives have spoken together to the public.

"With the new Commission and Foundation, the way New Orleans manages recreation is changing so quickly," said Kate Parker-Karst, director of the KidsWalk Coalition, which is led by the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC). "It is critical that the Commission engages the community as it restores recreation facilities," said Parker-Karst.

"Our goal is not to recreate what we had," said Richard, as he laid out the Commission's vision for both passive and active opportunities for recreation in New Orleans neighborhoods. Richard described among the Commission's new initiatives is a NORD "teen council" modeled off an advisory group in Philadelphia, where he previously served as Commissioner of Recreation.

In response to questions from attendees, Richard and LaRock explained that permanent bathrooms won't be installed at all NORD facilities but will be at so-called "active sites," such as ballfields. When asked about the management of the Lafitte Greenway, a 3.1-mile stretch of public land set aside for recreational development, they said it remains to be determined by the City administration. Richard and LaRock also said communities would be offered opportunities to participate in NORD program and facility planning when projects are initiated.

The Breakfast Roundtable Series offers advocates and professionals the opportunity to connect with leaders making New Orleans a healthier, more active city. Previous speakers have included Dr. Karen DeSalvo and the City Planning Commission. Is there a local leader you would like to see at the next Roundtable? Let us know by emailing kidswalk@tulane.edu.

By Matt Rufo, KidsWalk Coalition

(Photo by Naomi King: Attendees listen to Annie LaRock, NORD Foundation executive director, at the KidsWalk Coalition’s Breakfast Roundtable March 22.)

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