On May 17th, 2012, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation welcomed field professionals to the 10th Annual Park Summit, held at the beautiful Los Angeles County Arboretum. Attendees were treated to beautiful weather, vendor booths, and outstanding speakers. Keynote speaker Erin Runnion delivered a moving presentation with vital information about protecting the youth in our parks from child predators. Erin, whose foundation The Joyful Child, has partnered with radKIDS (Resist Aggression Defensively) to bring child empowerment programs to local parks, schools, and communities. Through her work as a child advocate, many children have learned to protect themselves against predators. To date, approximately 250,000 children have participated in the radKIDS program. Co-keynote speaker Lt. Maria Gutierrez from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department delivered an informative presentation about child endangerment and ways parks and recreation professionals can make their parks a safe haven for youth. She noted the importance of environmental design, awareness programs for youth, and training for field staff.
The Park Summit also heard from Doug Houston, legislative consultant, about the California state budget and its impact on local agencies. Doug brought good news of many grants available for water education, carbon footprint reduction, and after school programming among others. Ilona Volkmann, administrator for the Regional Park and Open Space District, also shared information on grant availability and opportunities.
Following the keynote addresses and general session, Park Summit attendees participated in breakout sessions including: Preventing Child Abduction/Recognizing
Sexual Predatory Behaviors, Alternative Energy, Understanding Social Media, Preserving and Caring for Historic Properties, Park Safety and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design, The Role of Parks in Emergency Situations, Directors Roundtable, and Parks Make Life Better!
The 10th Annual Park Summit was well attended with professionals traveling as far as San Diego. This event is always a highlight of the year and helps foster cooperative relationships among the many different Parks and Recreation agencies of the Southern California region. Be sure to join in next year!