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Big Pine Youth Advocate for Park Improvements

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Big Pine Youth Advocate for Park Improvements 

mendenhall park
Big Pine Unified School District K-12 students and faculty/staff pose for a photo with the Inyo County Board of Supervisors and County staff following their impassioned presentation on Tuesday.

INDEPENDENCE, CA — The Inyo County Board of Supervisors this week heard about the need for improvements and repairs at Mendenhall  Park – directly from those who use the County-operated facility the most.

Students in grades K-12 at Big Pine Unified School District attended the Tuesday, May 21 Board meeting to report on their recent participation  in “Better World Day,” which encourages youth to find ways to improve their community. The student body determined repairs and upgrades at Mendenhall Park would be just the thing to create lasting, positive impacts for both residents and visitors.

Students in transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, and first and second grades conducted a clean-up event at the park. Third-grade students  and high-schoolers teamed to create a public survey that they posted around town and sent home for parents. Fourth-graders worked with  longtime Big Pine resident Sandy Lund to research and share the park’s history, while fifth-graders wrote letters to county leaders, sixth-graders  researched “natural playgrounds,” and high-schoolers also worked with Parks and Recreation staff to research grants.

mendenhall park big pine
With the help of teacher Courtnee Johansen, students report on areas needing improvement at Mendenhall Park.

Students of all ages took turns on Tuesday reporting on facility conditions, safety concerns, and their Better World Day tasks and outcomes,  noting that of the 65 survey responses, 34 – or 52.3% – indicated the respondent was “not satisfied at all” with the current condition of the park. Refurbishing playground equipment, fixing the drinking fountains, and repairing and resurfacing the picnic tables and basketball court were  among the improvement projects students identified.

They also looked to the future, highlighting the following features to further enhance the park experience:

  • A natural playground using natural resources (elements and textures from the earth such as tree logs, tree stumps, boulders, plants, and drainage paths), and community assistance to help build it
  • A splash pad for really hot summer days
  • Playground equipment that is safe for toddlers and one for older children
  • A pump track similar to what’s being built in Bishop City Park
  • A disc-golf course
mendenhall park big pine
Wrapping up their presentation on Mendenhall Park Tuesday, the younger Big Pine students recited the following to the Board: “Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

Board members expressed their gratitude for the presentation, and were impressed with the care, ideas, and commitment on display and also  with how the students conveyed their message.

Supervisor Roeser arranged for the presentation, inspired by the students’ passion. “You know, sometimes we wrestle over things like budget  and where to put money and how to prioritize things. And I think you all made a really good case today for how important your park is and how  important parks are to recreation and fun and safety. And I think you expressed that probably better than any of us could up here. So  congratulations,” she said. “We need you. We need to hear from you often and the way you did this today is the best way. I just want to say  thank you for also the hard work you put in, the creativity. And I just hope you’re really, really, really proud of yourselves.”

The Mendenhall Park survey is ongoing and accessible via the following QR code:

mendenhall park

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