Sacramento youth help shape the future of City parks and recreation through artwork

How would you shape the future of parks and recreation in Sacramento?

The City asked that question and more than 60 Sacramento youth answered in the “Youth Art Expo and Contest: Your Parks, Your Future!” Youth ages 14 to 24 shared their vision for the future of parks and recreation through photos, drawings, videos and poetry.

“We were blown away by the amazing art submissions and recommendations from Sacramento’s young people,” said Park Planning and Development Manager Raymond Costantino.

From the submissions, three winners were selected, one for each age category. Each winner took home $300; another $600 was awarded to 12 honorable mention winners.

Here are the submissions from the three winners:

Age 14-15 winner: Muhammad Riaz

Riaz was inspired by all Sacramento parks, rather than a specific park. He included diversity, maintenance workers and various park activities.

“I think parks and recreation activities are crucial because they allow an escape from daily stressors,” Riaz said. “For example, you can go to parks just to take walks and have some self-reflection, like a sort of meditation. You could also have picnics or hang out with friends and family, which is very beneficial to mental health and allows you to have fun with little worry!”

Age 16-18 winner: Samantha Ward

Ward was inspired by North Natomas Community Park which is near her home, and Miller Park where she used to visit with her grandmother.

“Sacramento parks being open and free to everyone means the world to me. It means that everyone can get the same enjoyment out of our parks as I do,” said Ward. “Sacramento’s parks provide opportunities for locals to engage and meet one another. They serve as gathering places for family and community groups of all ages, regardless of background.”

Age 19-24: Alexandra Cooke

Cooke was inspired by McKinley park where she used to visit with her grandmother as a child and visits now with her younger siblings.

“The best part of visiting Sacramento parks is the sense of camaraderie that you get, the significance of these parks, and the countless visits and memories that were created there. Parks in Sacramento are locations that may help us be better, feel good, and feel more satisfied,” Cooke said.

Recommendations submitted by the participants will be included in the Youth, Parks, and Community Enrichment Department’s Parks Master Plan 2040, a guiding document to help Sacramento grow and respond to park and recreation needs over the next 20 years.

“YPCE’s art contest allowed youth to highlight some of the reasons why open space and recreation programs are important to them, whether it be for socialization, relaxation, physical or mental health,” said Costantino.

Using a combination of professional expertise and public input, the Parks Master Plan 2040 will help Sacramento:

  • Provide equitable and accessible parks and recreation opportunities
  • Evaluate and improve park conditions and maintenance
  • Expand recreation and community enrichment programs to better serve all residents
  • Support and empower youth in our communities

To view all of the art submissions, visit YPCE’s Facebook page.

To learn more about the Parks Master Plan 2040, visit the City website.


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