Building Healthy Neighborhoods for Children to Play, Grow, and Thrive
Community Development Team
Contact:a b i g a i l @ p o g o p a r k . o r g
Pogo Park team member Brandon cuts children’s hair for free at Elm Playlot every Friday afternoon. This informal “barber shop” is a defining activity at the park!
We provide summer jobs and job training to local youths, ages 14-21. Pogo All-Stars work alongside mentors in Pogo Park’s work teams: Parks Operations, Design/Build, Green, Media, and Research. Pogo All-Stars gives youth real-life work experience and rich opportunities for development.
Our partner East Bay Center for the Performing Arts provides a variety of dance classes in this highly popular program.
Elm Playlot is the largest distribution point for free meals in the Iron Triangle thanks to our collaboration with West Contra Costa Unified School District. Each year, we distribute thousands of free meals to local children who need them.
Art Teacher Marie Kamali, a specialist in youth arts education, sets up her beloved art station Monday through Friday for three hours in the afternoon. She provides a myriad of ever-changing, hands-on creative art activities: painting, clay modeling, beading, cutting, gluing, pasting, making jewelry, and more.
Pogo Park provides a staffed resource station to connect children and their families to existing health support services. Many Iron Triangle residents have barriers to receive support services due to language differences and difficulties accessing materials or understanding how to sign up for services.
Parents can access fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in our community garden (and gleaned from neighbors’ yards).
Pogo Park partners with local nonprofits to provide a series of six-week early education classes for 25 children, age 0-5, and their parents. Children, 0-5, and their caretakers can drop by the park and join the Baby & Me program anytime. During the program, caretakers learn to play with their children, learn about and participate in activities designed to spark their babies’ hearts and minds to come alive.
Shyaam Shabaka of EcoVillage Farm and Learning Center brings that organization’s gardening program to Elm Playlot, teaching children about the cycles of the earth and planting season, among other things. Gardener Richard Koenig additionally provides hands-on learning opportunities for children and youth to tend trees, plant plants, and grow fruits and vegetables in Elm Playlot’s garden.
Chess Master TC Ball, of the West Coast Chess Alliance, sets up his weekly chess club to teach youth to play chess as a way of practicing critical life skills like planning, patience, and perseverance.
Our partner Vision to Learn provides free eye screenings, exams, and glasses to local children. This program takes place in Elm Playlot every year.
Phoebe Tanner, a California-certified naturalist and a founder of the Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Middle School, provides children opportunities to catch and identify insects, watch birds, study and identify plants, observe monarch butterflies’ life cycle, and more.
Our partner EcoVillage Farm and Learning Center brings farm animals to Elm Playlot, where children learn how to interact with and care for them. Research shows that caring for an animal cultivates compassion and empathy and that it helps heal trauma, including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).
Playworker Dr. Jane Perry creates opportunities for children to engage in supported, unstructured free play throughout the year. As a retired researcher at the University of California, Berkeley’s Harold E. Jones Child Study Center, Dr. Perry is an expert in facilitating the kind of unstructured play that is critical to children’s cognitive, social, and creative development.