Six years ago, I was researching parks for the non-profit I was starting, Momentum. Momentum puts exercise equipment in parks next to the playground so moms/caretakers can work out while watching their kids play on the playground.
Anyway, I was interviewing moms at the parks to see if others thought there was a real need for this and if this was something I should truly be investing my time, energy, and resources to make happen.
I found myself at the Powell Barnett park off Martin Luther King in Seattle. Something about this park has always made me smile as I drove by. I think possibly because it seems to attract such a diverse crowd. Rain or shine, I see people there enjoying it. It makes my heart happy to see people of all colors, religions, and backgrounds playing together.
I found a woman named Maria there with her mom and children. In my broken Spanish, we had a conversation that shaped the past six years of my life. They shared with me that they don’t have the means to get a gym membership. That they don’t feel safe going for walks in their neighborhood. This place, this park, is the only place they feel comfortable letting their children run and play. This broke my heart. I asked them their thoughts on getting exercise equipment they could use for free in this park. It would be right in front of the playground so they would know their kids were safe. They were elated by the idea. They asked, “When will it be here?” with tears in their eyes. I said I didn’t know but that I would do everything I could to make it happen.
I’ve installed equipment in many other parks, but now, finally, I’m honoring my promise to Maria and her family. It is with so much pleasure I am announcing the grand opening of a fitness zone in Powell Barnett Park. I hope you will join me and celebrate with this community.
It was such an honor to work alongside Maisha Barnett, Powell Barnett’s granddaughter; the Seattle Parks Foundation; the Seattle Parks Department; and the Trust for Public Land to make this happen.