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Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

City of Davis awarded grant to add amenities such as an interactive water feature to Central Park

Experts discuss the benefits of spending time outdoors

By SHRADDHA JHINGAN city@theaggie.org

The City of Davis “has been awarded a grant in the amount of $2.784 million by the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Grant Program to renovate Central Park,” according to a press release from the City of Davis on Dec. 8, 2021. The grant will also be used to “create an interactive water play feature near the existing universal play structure and restroom.”

Of the 465 projects that were submitted for the fourth and final round of funding, 112 received funding, including the one in the City of Davis. Vice Mayor for the City of Davis explained the benefits of the project.

“This project’s features will significantly improve the health and quality of life for Davis residents and visitors by providing a safe opportunity to play outdoors,” Frerichs said in the press release. “The water play feature that is free and inclusive will help keep everyone cool during the hottest months of the year, creating a social destination for people of all ages.”

Additionally, according to the press release, California State Parks announced on Dec. 8 that $548.3 million in grant funding would be granted for new parks across 100 communities. This is also an effort to continue the Newsom Administration’s “Outdoors for All” initiative, which aims to enable all residents in California to access and visit open spaces and parks.

“Today’s grants represent the single-largest investment in state history in expanding access to parks in underserved communities with new or enhanced parks funded in every region of California,” the press release reads. 

According to the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom’s website, “through the Outdoor Access for All initiative, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom is working to build a healthier and more equitable California for all kids.”

The website also states that time spent in nature is mentally and physically beneficial for kids, “especially for youth in underserved communities.” According to the website, 70% of low-income communities in the U.S. live in places that are “nature-deprived.”

Nate Sowa, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of North California at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, said in a video that alongside physical benefits, time spent outdoors also has mental health benefits.

“Something about being in nature is calming to humans,” Sowa said. “We seek environments that seem calming and protective to us, and so they’re actually starting to show that people’s brains work differently when they’re in nature, compared to an urban setting[…].

This in turn affects how people think and lowers levels of stress and anxiety, according to Dr. Sowa. David Strayer, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Utah,  similarly discussed how nature can restore the brain in a TED Talk. In a study, two groups were told to go on a walk at an arboretum in Salt Lake City, UT. One group was not allowed any technology during the walk, while the other group called a relative or friend while on the walk. Electrical signals were collected before and after the walk.

“The people who are using their cell phone could only remember half of what they saw compared to the group who didn’t have the cell phone, wasn’t using the technology so these multitasking was creating a form of inattentional blindness where people failed to notice things in plain sight,” Strayer said.

Strayer said that the differences between the two groups cannot be attributed to just exercise because each group walked for the same length of time. He also stated that in a longer-term study, after three days of being outdoors without technology, the electrical signals’ theta levels showed that people’s brains rested.

The news release from the City of Davis includes a full list of features that will be included in Central Park. Some of these include “new pollinator gardens,” six new trees to be planted and public art and a “water-efficient irrigation system” that will use recycled water from the upcoming water feature.

Another city in California that received funding is San Diego for Beyer Park in San Ysidro, San Diego.

“If the pandemic taught us anything it is the need to have readily accessible and ample green spaces for our community is critical, it’s essential and because everyone no matter their identity, their ability or their address deserves access to high quality parks and the benefits that they bring,” Mayor of San Diego Todd Gloria said in a video.

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org


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