Increasing physical activity space for residents of South Texas
A member of Texas A&M’s Working on Wellness (WOW) project coalition was recently announced as a winner of the 2019 Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) Awards in recognition of its commitment to enhancing the community and protecting the Lone Star State. Weslaco High School and the City of Weslaco received the KTB Government Award (City 30,000–50,000) for its student-led revitalization project of Gibson Park.
As part of Texas A&M Healthy South Texas, WOW focuses on improving the health environment of Hidalgo and Starr counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas by increasing residents’ access to healthy foods and places to be physically active. To accomplish this, the project put together coalitions of community members, schools, local governments and key stakeholders to identify specific areas of need and then empower residents to implement lasting change.
Weslaco High School students chose to focus on transforming their neighborhood Gibson Park from a dilapidated, underutilized space to an inviting place for neighbors to gather and engage in outdoor activity. Using funds granted by the WOW project, students took trainings, presented plans to city leadership and then got to work. Improvements include a new walking trail, upgraded play equipment, new benches and an art mural. They also repurposed an old concrete slab into a shaded play area with a Ping-Pong table, bean bag toss, four-square and hopscotch.
“The students at Weslaco High School took full ownership of this project, and the community is exceedingly proud of the work and commitment they put into enhancing Gibson Park for physical activity and beautification,” said Evelia Castillo, MPH, CHWI, program manager of WOW and the Texas A&M University Health Science Center McAllen Campus.
“We are proud to honor and recognize the individuals and organizations making a difference in our state,” said Suzanne Kho, executive director of Keep Texas Beautiful. “Their commitment to enhancing their communities and protecting the Texas environment inspires others to help keep Texas beautiful.”
Weslaco High School and the City of Weslaco were recognized with all winners at the Keep Texas Beautiful Annual Conference in Rockwall, Texas, on June 18–20, 2019.