CULVER CITY — Summer activities are back in session at Culver City parks, with some modifications, as the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department gradually restarted their programming beginning in late June, after Los Angeles County temporarily suspended park operations in late March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Corey Lakin, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department director, said his department modified and added programming to accommodate the coronavirus mandates imposed by Los Angeles County parks and public health officials. The vast majority of staff, made up of 34 full-time workers and 60-80 part-time workers, are back at work and implementing these programs.
The modified programming includes a “pocket” summer camp, which began on July 6, with children divided up into small groups or “pockets” of 8-12 people. During the six-hour camp sessions, participants interact only with their group members and counselor doing various activities, events and programs. Face masks are required except when participants are eating. Everyone is temperature checked before activities start.
For parents who are more comfortable keeping their children at home, but still want them to have interaction with other kids and the camp counselor, the city has created a virtual camp. Every Saturday parents can pick up a box with supplies they need to participate. For 75 minutes each day, the camp counselor and kids get on a Zoom call to do sports drills and make art projects like origami.
The department also has implemented more programming for senior citizens. The Culver City Senior Center, which the Parks, Recreationa nd Community Services Department operates, now delivers seven days worth of meals to more than 300 homebound seniors. The city’s teen center also has an after-school pen pal program where teens correspond with local seniors.
Parks staff currently performs up to 1,400 wellness calls each week to residents that sign up. The program was originally for those who are part of the Culver City Residents Association, a nonprofit organization operated from the Culver City Senior Center, expanded to everyone with the opening of the city’s coronavirus hotline. The calls range from a simple check-in to the arrangement of grocery delivery.
“We’re trying to meet the needs and desires of the community, providing safe parks, safe programming in light of COVID, and make sure we’re meeting as many of the community’s needs as possible,” Lakin said.
In recognition of this work on July 13, the City Council proclaimed July Parks Make Life Better Month in honor of the department’s contributions to the city. The Parks Make Life Better logo will be illuminated on the Veteran’s Memorial Tower each night for the remainder of the month.
Culver City Mayor Göran Eriksson congratulated the department on its achievements.
“During the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, our staff has truly poured their hearts and tireless energy into creating a successful senior meal delivery program, numerous virtual classes for all ages and modified day camps and aquatic programming to safely resume,
“I can’t imagine a city without a Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, like the one we have here in Culver City.”
By Cynthia Gibson