pogo park

when new parks grow, children blossom

In Richmond’s Iron Triangle, a neighborhood where residents suffer from the devastating effects of poverty and unemployment, finding a safe place to play can be difficult, but Pogo Park has transformed two little-used city parks, Elm Playlot and Harbour-8, into centers of peace and tranquility.

James, who has lived in Richmond his whole life, and his son Markel, who has been playing at the original Pogo Park since he was 12, have seen first-hand how it has changed their neighborhood for the better.

But talk to Executive Director Toody Maher, the visionary founder of Pogo Park, and she’ll tell you “It’s about much more than playgrounds”.

Pogo Park‘s unique approach “combines two distinct but interrelated strategies: child development and community development.” And the idea that “parents of every race, ethnicity and economic condition share one trait: hope for their children’s future.”

Pogo Park aims to take over city parks that were once abandoned and broken, and transform them into vibrant and beautiful green spaces for children to play outside and for families to gather.

As Toody will tell you, “these green sanctuaries have unique energy, where change and positive impact ripple out through the neighborhood.”

Chevron is providing a $1,000,000 grant to Pogo Park to begin their newest endeavor, Pogo Park Products, a project of eQuip Richmond, Chevron’s innovative economic revitalization initiative. Pogo Park Products, a social enterprise to spark and drive economic development, will train Richmond residents to plan and design children’s play environments as well as design and build custom products for children’s play environments and public parks in communities across the Bay Area and throughout the US.

In addition to the transformative, community-building benefits, Pogo Park believes the new project will become an economic engine for the entire Iron Triangle neighborhood, helping to improve the quality of life for its residents.

“For Markel and for everyone, it’s about creating the beauty and finding the beauty in ourselves,” said James. Now father and son are part of a team of residents actively working toward planning, building, and caring for the two parks, both new centers of peace and play.

“The bones of this park is coming from young people like Markel,” says Toody Maher.

Young Richmond residents who are living and thinking about what needs to happen in their community are putting their thoughts into action. Toody says, “That’s what is so powerful. People from this neighborhood are able to build the park they want to see.”

“To be a part of something and make this change in the community is really a blessing for me,” said James. “Pogo Park has helped my son change and become a more responsible young adult.”

That’s why Chevron supports Pogo Park. Because we know that when parks grow, kids blossom.

Learn more about the impact Pogo Park is having on the community by visiting www.pogopark.org.