When functional, parks provide a place for neighborhood residents to interact with each other, provide a space for sports and physical activity, and let children bond with their parents and make new friends.
But when neglected, parks can pose a hazard to those who try to use them.
Strewn with broken glass, vegetation growing amidst trash, and littered with the occasional gutted car, the local kids call these places hidden in Dededo’s neighborhoods as “the lost parks of Kaiser.”
Unlike other parks on the island, these parks are not managed by the government and comprise a portion of the more than 50 neighborhood parks scattered across Guam.
Stretching as far back as the 1980s, these parks have faced neglect by the communities they were tasked to serve.
According to Island Girl Power Director Juanita Blas, the nonprofit has had hundreds of volunteers help clean the parks since the organization adopted three of them in 2014.
“These parks are not the responsibility of the government. It’s the responsibility of the neighborhood and we just need help. We need people to help with donations, trash removal, labor. Come out and help the neighborhood parks. Give the parks back to the kids,” Blas said.
Blas adds that she sees these parks as not just potential recreational facilities, but offer features such as gardens that could provide food for the community. She also says that if everyone does just a little bit, these parks and their neighborhoods could become safer.
“Kaiser has had a lot of bad things happen. I believe that if we give kids a clean parkway — a basketball rim or just a green space with trees — they’ll grow up to be more well-adjusted. And if you want these families to have more community pride, give them a community to be proud of. Stop pointing fingers at the government. This is our responsibility,” Blas said.
If you are interested in volunteering, call Juanita Blas at 688-4752.