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Parks After Dark Evaluation Report, July 2018

July 25, 2018

Research Report

Authors: Nadereh Pourat, PhD, Ana E. Martinez, MPH, Leigh Ann Haley, MPP, Xiao Chen, PhD

This is the 2017 final evaluation report of the Parks After Dark (PAD) Program. Parks After Dark (PAD) is an innovative Los Angeles County (County) strategy for building resilient communities that re-envision parks as community hubs. PAD began in 2010 as the prevention strategy of the County’s Gang Violence Reduction Initiative, and has since evolved into a key County prevention and intervention strategy, promoting health, safety, equity, and family and community well-being. PAD has been adopted into the strategic plans of several County departments and initiatives, and will be expanded to 33 County parks in 2018.

PAD is led by the County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), in partnership with County Board of Supervisors, Chief Executive Office (CEO), Department of Public Health (DPH), Sheriff’s Department, Probation Department, and many other government agencies and community organizations. PAD extends hours of park operation during summer weekend evenings, in unincorporated communities of Los Angeles County, and offers a variety of free activities and resources for people of all ages in a safe and welcoming space. Additionally, Deputy Sheriffs patrol the parks to ensure safety during PAD and participate in activities with community members.

Evaluators from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that the PAD program increased access to quality recreational programming; facilitated collaboration among a variety of partners and stakeholders; decreased community violence and increased perceptions of safety; increased access to physical activity opportunities, therefore decreasing risk of chronic disease; improved community cohesion and family bonding; and led to estimated cost savings due to a decrease in crime and an increase in physical activity levels.

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