The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach was awarded a $400,000 state grant to improve its play yard with a skatepark, greenhouse, raised garden beds, art wall, and other kid-friendly amenities.
Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine) advocated for the funds in the 2022 state budget to provide for children’s physical, socio-emotional, and academic well-being. Other planned additions to the yard include a new play structure, astroturf, and shade structure.
“I’m so proud to have secured $400,000 in the California State budget for the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach,” Petrie-Norris said in a press release. “I cannot wait to see the vision for the Dream Play Yard become a reality—it is going to be a tremendous resource for Laguna Beach kids of all ages.”
On a daily basis, the nonprofit serves over 3,000 students in Laguna Beach and the Saddleback Valley through in-school and out-of-school time programs.
Anxiety and depression in children have been reported at epidemic levels during the COVID-19 outbreak. The play yard’s turf area will become a new option for students to learn self-care through meditation, visualization, yoga, tai-chi, martial arts, music, and other therapies.
“We at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach are so grateful for the generous support of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and our community for their transformational investment in the young people we serve. Providing the kids of Laguna and South Orange County a safe yet fun place to be and grow is our primary goal,” Boys & Girls Club CEO Pamela Estes said in a press release.
Between the new state funding and private donations, the Club has met its $600,000 fundraising goal for the play yard’s upgrade, board president Terry Anderson said.
All funds raised, including the amount received from the state, will be used for the renovation, building of, and operation of the forthcoming play yard, Estes wrote in an email.
One of the most expensive elements of the project will be ripping up and replacing the asphalt in the play yard, The Club is looking at asphalt vendors to replace some of the cracking asphalt, which would start after summer programs end.
“We’re obviously proud and honored to have gained the support for the Boys & Girls Club’s mission and upgrading our play yard will significantly improve the diversity of our outdoor program and, more importantly, serve more kids,” Anderson said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach hosted its Time to Play event at Hotel Laguna to recognize the Club’s donors in February.
Locals for Laguna was co-founded by Jason Garza and Ashley Moseley in 2020 to support Laguna Beach community members and businesses struggling amid the pandemic’s health protocols. After seeing children sitting at metal picnic tables, Locals for Laguna rallied to provide four wooden picnic tables. They went to the Boys & Girls Club, South Laguna Community Garden, Wine Gallery, and Ruby’s Diner. Community members provided the labor and materials.
For over two and a half years, Garza has held on to his interest in fundraising and encouraging fellow locals to donate their money or services to the Club.
“The playground and skatepark is the combined effort of the town’s locals who grew up in this area and are keenly aware that arguably skateboarding started in Laguna but obviously we don’t have a skatepark,” Garza said.
The Club is looking at adding temporary skateboard ramps and rails that could be stored during other outdoor activities. The skatepark would only be for use by Club members, due to the potential liability involved.