Phoenix, AZ, September 6, 2013 /3BL Media/ – More than 50 volunteers built a new community garden at Mountain View Park in Phoenix. The garden was made possible by a unique public-private partnership between the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, UnitedHealthcare, CBS EcoMedia and the National Recreation and Park Association. The new gardens will allow area residents the opportunity to get moving outdoors, grow their own fruits and vegetables, and to revitalize their neighborhood park.
The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is partnering with the Phoenix Parks Foundation, and the Sunnyslope Village Alliance, as well as neighboring businesses, households and local gardening groups to develop and grow the garden as a collaborative community service and wellness project. Today Mountain View Park got some very hands-on help from dozens UnitedHealthcare volunteers and other volunteers from Sunnyslope Village Alliance and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The volunteers spent the morning grading, hauling, building, digging, watering, mulching and planting.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to help build the community garden, which we believe will help build healthier communities by bringing the community closer and enable residents to grow their own nutritious food,” said Jeri Jones, West Region President, UnitedHealthcare Community & State.
Following the morning’s volunteer work, Phoenix Vice Mayor Bill Gates, Bob Berlin, Recreation Coordinator III Sunnyslope Community Center, City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department; Jim Mapstead, Treasurer of the Sunnyslope Village Alliance, Jeri Jones, West Region President Community and State at UnitedHealth Group; Debbie Castaldo, Vice President Community Impact Arizona Diamondbacks and Paul Polizzotto, CBS EcoMedia Inc. President and Founder led a dedication celebration and officially opened the garden. Also present at today’s event were representatives from the Phoenix Police Department.
“Parks unite our communities and provide our city with healthy lifestyle options, and this grant will help Phoenix to be on top of its game for physical activity and wellness,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “We will continue to connect the community to a wide range of recreational opportunities including Fit PHX, which includes all our city health-related programs and services and by encouraging participation in physical-fitness events, nutrition classes and other activities that promote personal wellness.
The volunteers got some expert advice from Jeremy Vasquez, owner of Butler Urban Gardens and a resident of Sunnyslope, who provided direction on garden prep and planting. Attendees also heard from representatives from Kitchen On the Street, whose Food Truck was on hand to offer a cooking demonstration. Kitchen On the Street uses its distinctive Food Truck as a mobile classroom to teach families about food and nutrition, to provide healthy food to families in crises, and teach job skills to adults in need
“This is a very satisfying project that illustrates how the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together,” said Tony Motola, Executive Director of the Phoenix Parks Foundation. “The volunteer members of the Sunnsylope Village Alliance were determined in their efforts to bring a community garden to Mountain View Park and Mayor Greg Stanton, Vice Mayor Bill Gates, and Phoenix Parks and Recreation Director James Burke all made the effort to find a way to say yes.
The new Mountain View Park Community Garden offers an opportunity for people in the neighborhood to not only grow their own nutritious and delicious food, but also to give back to their community by donating the excess produce
"Throughout Phoenix, parks serve as public spaces where communities can come together," Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department Director James Burke said. "We're proud to have the city's Mountain View Park at the heart of a great project that will make the Sunnyslope neighborhood an even better place to live, and we thank the partners that are making this garden possible."
Gardening is being recognized regionally and nationally as a popular and effective way to improve nutrition and health in communities. The plan for the Mountain View Community Garden calls for 15 to 20 plots in designated growing areas. The garden’s plan also reaches out to key stakeholders in the community to take ownership of their own garden plots and better connect with the neighborhood.
“This partnership is a great example of how parks and recreation all across the country are taking a leadership role in their community’s health and wellness while adding to the viability of local cities,” says Barbara Tulipane President and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association. “We herald the work that was done today and also recognize that this community garden in Phoenix has the power to bring the community together, serve populations in need and add value to the neighborhood for years to come.”
Just 12 months after the concept to revitalize Mountain View Park was created, it is now becoming a reality. Thanks to funding from UnitedHealthcare through CBS EcoMedia's WellnessAd, what was an idea on paper has rapidly developed into the creation of the first-ever community garden for the primarily low-income Sunnyslope area.
“With active community involvement, we are optimistic the community garden is just the first step in a comprehensive revitalization of Mountain View Park,” said Howard Taylor, a small business owner and President of the Sunnyslope Village Alliance.
“Our unique public-private partnership business model is at the core of our WellnessAd, EcoAd, and EducationAd programs – and we’ve seen it in action here today,” said Paul Polizzotto, Founder and President of CBS EcoMedia, Inc. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of UnitedHealthcare, which provided generous funding and a terrific team of enthusiastic, energetic “Do Good, Live Well” volunteers, and a dedicated coalition of nonprofit partners and neighborhood volunteers, we've helped shape the landscape of Mountain View Park and create a healthier future for the Sunnyslope neighborhood. I want to thank Mayor Stanton, Vice Mayor Gates, and the Diamondbacks organization for their participation and support of the EcoMedia mission, which is to bring health, education, and environmental improvements to communities nationwide.”
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.
About Phoenix Parks and Recreation
The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is committed to improving the quality of life through its parks, programs and preserves. Our mission is building healthy communities through parks, programs and partnerships. From swim lessons to tree pruning to providing archeological services, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department provides varied and distinct programs, services and facilities to a diverse population that are affordable, accessible and contribute to quality of life for our customers. In 2012, more than a million residents made more than 30 million visits to the city's parks and facilities; residents also made 15 million annual visits to our desert preserves. Every day, the department is responsible for nearly 200 parks and thousands of acres of turf, a vast desert preserve system with 180 miles of trails, and facilities that are home to hundreds of classes and sports programs.
About the Phoenix Parks Foundation
The Phoenix Parks Foundation was established in 1979 to assist the City of Phoenix by enhancing and maintaining an inviting, well-equipped, safe park and preserve system for all to enjoy. Our vision is to inspire community pride and excellence by building public-private partnerships that enhance Phoenix parks and preserves.
The Foundation is a recognized non-profit and tax-exempt organization that depends on contributions to transform land into parks and help rejuvenate existing parks back to their original beauty. Since budgetary restraints limit public agencies, private citizens have joined together within the foundation structure to facilitate a working relationship between the public and private sector that addresses the financial needs of Phoenix parks and preserves, taking them from great to first-rate. Please visit Phxparksfoundation.org
Our Mission: To support, enhance, and advocate for parks, preserves, and recreational opportunities to sustain a vibrant community
About National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not‐for‐profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 30,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources. For more information, visit www.NRPA.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.
About CBS EcoMedia Inc.
At EcoMedia, we’re propelled by the desire to create positive social change; that’s been our mission since we founded the company in 2002. In 2010, after successfully partnering with CBS on a wide range of environmental projects, EcoMedia became the newest addition to the CBS Corporation portfolio, exponentially scaling our reach across television, radio, interactive, publishing and outdoor media.
Through our patent-pending EcoAd, WellnessAd and EducationAd programs, an innovative twist on traditional advertising, advertisers are able to support much-needed local projects which in turn creates jobs, saves taxpayer money and improves the quality of life in communities nationwide. In the process, we’re fundamentally altering the advertising landscape, elevating the ordinary, traditional commercial – and media, in general – into a catalyst for tangible, quantifiable social change. Please visit ecomedia.cbs.com to learn more.
By participating in EcoMedia’s EcoAd, WellnessAd and EducationAd advertising programs, EcoMedia’s advertisers agree to provide funding for projects we believe will have a beneficial effect upon the environment, health and/or education within local communities. EcoMedia’s advertising programs are not certification programs nor are the EcoAd, WellnessAd or EducationAd logos seals of approval. EcoMedia does not in any way certify, endorse or make any representations about EcoMedia program advertisers, their products or services.
KEYWORDS: Paul Polizzotto, unitedhealthcare, Jeri Jones, Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunnyslope Village Alliance, Vice Mayor Bill Gates, NRPA, The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, Phoenix Parks Foundation