NEW GREEN SPACE FOR GULFTON COMMUNITY
Braving the cold weather, YES Prep students and staff, as well as community partners, came together on November 13 for the ribbon cutting ceremony of YES Prep Gulfton’s newly renovated youth sports field. Gulfton is one of the city’s densest neighborhoods yet only 40 percent of its 50,000 residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. This sports field will not only accommodate practices, games and campus activities for the YES Prep campus, but will also offer families in the community with a much needed safe, clean, and fun green space.
PATCH OF BROWN DIRT TO GREEN FIELD
Before the field was renovated, YES Prep Gulfton was at the mercy of the weather. If it rained, the dirt field turned into mud and was unusable during and immediately afterwards. However, as YES Prep Gulfton School Director Oscar Romano remarked at the ribbon cutting, this renovated field gives the school the ability to resume practices and other activities once the skies clear.
“We are excited about the addition of a new field on our campus,” said Romano. “Our students will have a safe and fun space to socialize, exercise and engage in their athletic pursuits. What’s more, thanks to partnerships with local community organizations, the impact of the field will also benefit the greater Gulfton community. The field will be accessible to the public, truly making it a hub for this neighborhood and its families.”
RIBBON CUTTING SPECIAL GUESTS
Several special guests joined our YES Prep Gulfton students and families, including State Representative Gene Wu, City Council Member for District J Mike Laster, City Planning Department Acting Director Margaret Wallace Brown, Texans Ambassador Kevin Walter, SPARK School Park Program Executive Director Kathleen Ownby, Houston LISC Executive Director Amanda Timm, plus an appearance by the Texans Cheerleaders.
The YES Prep Gulfton cheerleaders and dance team added flair to the event with several performances and the YES Prep Gulfton flag football team was on hand to receive the first official toss on the field from Texans Ambassador Walter.
THANKS TO THE NFL AND LISC
The renovated sports field was made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Houston Texans through the National Football League (NFL) Foundation Grassroots Program. The grant from the Texans, the NFL Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to YES Prep is part of more than $3 million awarded nationally this year.
Regarding the Texans participation in this effort, Houston Texans President Jamey Rootes shared, “The Houston Texans are proud to partner with the NFL and LISC to unveil the renovated sports field at YES Prep which will provide the community a safe place to compete in sports throughout the year. Our Foundation’s mission is to be Champions for Youth and through this project, we are able to enhance the quality of life for our next generation of leaders.”
Through this program, local agencies are provided with the necessary financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of fields in their communities. The agencies oversee the construction, maintenance and programming of the fields.
WE’D ALSO LIKE TO THANK
In addition to the NFL and LISC, we would also like to thank Connect Community, a community-based organization working in the Gulfton neighborhood, who played a key role in ushering the resources needed to realize the community’s vision, as well as the SPARK School Park Program who provided an additional $200,000 grant to support this sports field.
“In 2016 SPARK received funding from Houston Endowment, Kinder Foundation, and Powell Foundation to focus on 30 projects in identified ‘park desert’ areas of Harris County,” said Kathleen Ownby, Executive Director of SPARK. “The new turf field at YES Prep was made possible with $200,000 of SPARK ‘park desert’ funding and will help turn an area on the ‘park desert’ map from brown to green.”
YES Prep Gulfton’s parent group “Guardians of the Force” also helped raise funds for this project by organizing several school fundraisers and reaching out to regular community partners like Univision 45 and Texas Children’s Health Plan who also made financial contributions.
Thanks to a community coming together, the Gulfton area is home to a new green space. Now, let’s play some ball!