Your Park! Your Health!
"I didn't know I could do this in this park!" This is the most common refrain uttered by visitors in the five years the Your Park! Your Health! (YPYH) program has been running.
At the heart of the YPYH initiative is a mission to connect the culturally-diverse audiences of New York and New Jersey with all that Gateway National Recreation Area has to offer. From active recreation, to exploration, to bountiful learning opportunities, this national park offers nearby city-dwellers a chance to enjoy the natural and historical treasures in their own backyard.
The YPYH team is made up of a group of energetic interns from over 13 countries who collectively speak more than 20 languages! They didn’t grow up kayaking, camping, or bike riding. But they’ve overcome their own fears in trying these new experiences and have discovered a love for the outdoors.
Through their own experiences, they’re able to better connect with the visitors who aren’t used to partaking in these recreational opportunities, serving as new ambassadors for the great outdoors. Their excitement is contagious and it is the driving force behind YPYH’s success.
Because of them, we’re able to present Gateway’s wonderful outdoor activities to many new communities, and ignite a passion for parks.
This year two new groups are working with the YPYH initiative to expand our reach to a new community: the sight-impaired. InTandem and Visions generously provide bike rides and support services to allow the sight-impaired community to enjoy our national park.
We’re proud to help so many new visitors connect to nature and find their park at Gateway National Recreation Area. And we’re excited to see what the rest of the summer brings!
Hope to see you at an YPYH event soon -- check out our Facebook page for upcoming event details!
About the author: Jessica Gonzalez is a National Park Service ranger who began her career with Your Park! Your Health! (then known as Tu Parque! Tu Salud!) in its inaugural year. Her #FindYourPark moment happened in high school, when she visited Gateway National Recreation Area for astronomy club, but didn't know of its connection to the broader park system until much later. Jessica is currently the program director for YPYH, now in its fifth year, and continues to be committed to its mission of helping diverse communities find their park.