It won’t be a surprise to anyone that knows us (and our name kind of gives it away), but the core of our work at Park People is engaging and empowering people in their local public spaces.
Park People’s motto sums up our thinking on this pretty well: “When Communities Get Involved, Park Get Better.”
One of the most inspiring things about working here is seeing all the amazing projects, events, and activities that are organized in parks across Toronto by tireless and committed community volunteers. National Volunteer Week is the perfect occasion to highlight just of a few of the staggering figures that demonstrate the great things that volunteers did to improve and animate parks in 2015.
Earlier this year we surveyed the over 100 park friends groups that exist in every one of Toronto’s 44 wards to find a bit more about what they’d been up to. These are the community volunteers who are dedicated to caring for the natural environment of their park, animating it with fun activities, and advocating for improvements. Here’s some of what we learned:
- Volunteers made 400 different events happen in parks in 2015: Parks’ potential is never more visible than when community members congregate and share in the energy that park events bring. If our park events calendar is any indication, park events across the city keep people cleaning, exploring and celebrating all year long.
- 50,000 Toronto citizens benefited from park events. Imagine a space as big as the Rogers Centre. That’s how many people came out to participate in events run by park volunteers. If you’ve planned a party, you know it takes a ton of work. As event attendees, it’s easy to enjoy the party without reflecting on what’s gone on behind the scenes. The reality is that park event volunteers meet in coffee shops to plan events after work and post flyers around the neighbourhood in the wee hours of the morning. We’re always astounded by the quality of park-events made possible by park volunteers.
- 4,500 people volunteered 15,000 hours in their parks: Park friends groups are committed to improving and animating their local parks and open spaces. They really are the souls of their communities and their efforts leave a lasting impact on communities. It’s important to remember that you can join this movement. If you have a vision for your local park, or you just want to make a positive contribution to your community, look at our ever-growing list of park friends groups and reach out using the contact information they’ve provided just for this purpose. We look forward to adding you to the list of volunteers in 2016.
Happy National Volunteer Week to all you amazing park volunteers. You really do put the people in Park People.