Come Play outside

Come Play Outside is a new programming initiative that creates exciting opportunities for kids and their families to play outside safely in San Diego

City-wide tree planting program

SDPF is proud to support & facilitate planting trees in parks across San Diego

WIFI INSTALLATION PROGRAM

SDPF is raising funds & facilitating wifi installation in San Diego rec centers - FREE to use!

REPURPOSING SAN YSIDRO LIBRARY

SDPF is raising funds to repurpose the library into a thriving community center for all ages

Success Stories!

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San Diego Park Foundation fast facts

42,097

acres of park/open land

13

miles of shoreline

672,847

volunteer hours in 2018

9,208

acres of parks

What They Say?

Upcoming Events

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01. OUR VISION

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02. Our Projects

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03. OUR GOALS

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Latest Blog

Keep up with the stories of change in San Diego
Paws and Recreation

As generations age, the use of service dogs is on the rise. As more and more visitors frequent our parks and facilities, so will service dogs. It is estimated that there are more than 500,000 service dogs in use currently in the United States, and that

number is expected to rise. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and individual state statutes will determine the extent in which different types of service dogs have access to your facilities. As an industry, service dogs are often seen at senior/active adult centers, community centers, athletic/sports complexes and even playgrounds. These dogs help enhance the abilities of their handlers and provide equitable access to a service being provided to the community. Examples of different types of service dogs are seeing-eye dogs, diabetes alert dogs and mobility assistance dogs.

A service dog has full access and rights to all facilities, whereas an [emotional support animal] ESA has no public access, and a therapy/ facility dog only has access to the facility at which it is “working.”

Understand the Types of Working Dogs
Service dogs are “task trained” dogs (of any breed) that enhance the ability of a person to participate in everyday opportunities. These are different than emotional support animals (ESA) or therapy/facility dogs. A service dog has full access and rights to all facilities, whereas an ESA has no public access, and a therapy/facility dog only has access to the facility at which it is “working.” For example, a service dog must be allowed on the pool deck with its handler, but the dog is not allowed to swim in the pool.

Know the Laws

There are no “certifications” or legal paperwork for service dogs. As service providers, the only questions one may ask their patrons visiting are: “Is that a service dog?” and “What service does it provide for you?” Employees may not ask for any medical paperwork or proof of a skill or task. A service dog is not required to have any type of vest nor identifying marks to be considered a working dog. The dog must be leashed or tethered to the handler at all times, unless it obstructs the handler. Handlers are liable for all damages if an accident occurs. The only way a facility can ask for a service dog to be removed is if the animal is not housebroken, or it is considered to be a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Allergies and fears of animals are not valid reasons to ask for a service dog to leave.

Open Conversations

Service dog organizations provide new routes to community relationships and programming. Organizations that train service dogs are constantly looking for different types of “exposures” to make sure their dogs are ready for their future handlers. A senior center serves as a great place to host these trainings. For example, bringing a dog to a knitting club not only benefits the dog’s training, but also can brighten the day of your participants who may not be capable of caring for animals anymore.

Remember the Reason

The first step to ensuring an inclusive environment for individuals who require service animals is to become familiar with the ADA guidelines, as well as your state statutes. Understand your facility, county and city codes of ordinances, making sure that you are not violating the ability for someone to enjoy recreation just as everyone else. Train your employees to be comfortable answering questions from other patrons about dogs at a facility. True service dogs are not a distraction. They are well-groomed, well-behaved and the general public is, oftentimes, unaware they are even there.

The point of a service dog is to make life more equitable for the handler and for them to be able to enjoy everyday activities and ser- vices just like everyone else. They want to enjoy the incredible pro- graming, facilities and events that you are providing as a park and rec- reation professional!

New Horizons Service Dogs, Inc., is a 501C(3) in Orange City, Florida, that provides task-trained service dogs to members of the community in need.

Hannah Cooper is a Service Dog Trainer with New Horizons Service Dogs, Inc.

Outdoor Play Ideas

Need outdoor play ideas for your kids? Here is a resource guide to get you out the door!

Prying your children away from their beloved devices can feel like a monumental task, and sometimes maybe not even worth the struggle. However, now more than ever, children need to be spending time outside. Nature-deficit disorder, while not the ultimate buzzword, is making headlines, and many experts agree that less time in nature or outdoors can negatively impact our children in the long term.


Ideally, time in nature is great, but getting your kids outside is a start, whether it’s hiking, riding bikes, backyard family games or even through sports like soccer, basketball or skateboarding. Check out these helpful resources to get your kids off the couch and into the outdoors. 


5 Questions: Does Your Child Have Nature-Deficit Disorder?

If you’re concerned that your child may suffer from NDD but you’re not sure if your child fits the definition, these questions will help you take a closer look.


Kids Need More Outdoor Play, Says Expert

Devices have a tendency to anchor children inside. However, some experts believe that children need to spend a lot more time in nature than they currently do.


Getting Kids Into the Outdoors Starts in the Backyard

You don’t have to immediately embark on a camping trip to combat NDD. Instead, you can simply explore some of the activities you can do in your own backyard.


Storm Spotting for Children: At-Home Meteorology

If you live in an area that’s prone to storms, then your child may develop an interest in them. So, foster this love of storms by watching them safely from your home.


How to Start a Neighborhood Pack for Your Kids

Want to encourage your child to play outside but you don’t want to spend every moment looking over their shoulder? You may want to develop a “neighborhood pack”!


When (and How) to Introduce Your Kid to Outdoor Sports

At some point, your child may develop an interest in sports. Before deciding on one, discuss this decision with your child — and use this resource to learn more!


9 Steps to Plan a Family Camping Trip

Planning a camping trip with your family isn’t an easy goal to accomplish. To make sure you’re prepared, follow these steps to ensure everyone has fun — and stays safe.


4 Tips When Mountain Biking with Your Child

If mountain biking is on your list of outdoor activities, you need to know what to do to ensure that everyone stays safe and enjoys the ride.


As you can see, there are plenty of ways to get your kids outside and active. If you make it a family affair, then everyone gets a dose of the outdoors, and you can build lasting memories. Plus, by encouraging your children to spend more time outside, you can rest easy knowing they’re getting all the fresh air and sunshine they need. 


For information about events and activities in and around the San Diego area, be sure to pay a visit to the San Diego Parks Foundation website.

Benefits of Small Parks

Parks are emerging as important public health solutions in urban communities. Nearly 40 years of research evidence confirms that nearby nature, including parks, gardens, the urban forest and green spaces, support human health and wellness. The research about active living and opportunities to avoid chronic diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory problems) is particularly relevant to large parks where people can enjoy walking and bike paths, and playing fields. But, equally as important is the role of small parks and nature spaces for health.

In many communities, additional land for large parks is either expensive or difficult to repurpose. Every parcel or easement is ever more valuable. Creating small parks can be a productive public and private joint venture that introduces the spaces for nature encounters that benefit everyone.

Co-Benefits of City Systems
An emerging opportunity for parks and recreation is the integration of green infrastructure and parks goals. Infrastructure systems are planned to systematically source and deliver crucial services or products, such as transportation or water systems. The term “infrastructure” usually brings to mind roads, pipes and power lines. Green infrastructure systems, however, are practical integrations of built and ecological systems that incorporate natural and constructed green spaces to replace or augment traditional gray infrastructure.

Parks and green infrastructure can be co-designed for co-benefits. Parks can serve their primary goals to offer recreation and aesthetic amenities, while also containing spaces that mitigate stormwater or improve air quality. Green infrastructure can achieve essential utility functions in the community, but may also be designed to create the environments that provide nearby nature experiences and support health.

Green infrastructure includes bioswales, rain gardens and other water harvesting features. If a collection of these small nature spaces is to be installed within a community, then a systems outlook is important. The TKF Foundation, a philanthropy dedicated to creating small, high-quality gardens, promotes a “sites-to-systems” outlook so that the sum benefit of small nature spaces is greater than the many parts. Rather than focusing only on the design of individual parcels or features, a broader planning approach could integrate a series of small spaces into a coherent network.

Integrating parks and green infrastructure, co-design for co-benefits: these can be unconventional practices in many public works and parks departments. They are goals that cross the borders of typical policies and purposes. Why is this activity important? Health services costs total nearly 17 percent of the annual U.S. gross domestic product. Creative programs that enable more nature contact in the city can help reduce costs at both the national and community level.

Health Benefits from Small Nature Spaces
Following is a small sample from the research literature of the health benefits gained specifically from small nature spaces:

Improved General Mood and Attitude
A study that compared meditative and athletic walking in forest and indoor settings showed that in both environments meditative walking generated more positive psychological effects than athletic walking. Other investigators have found evidence of lower frustration and increased brain activity, resembling meditation, when moving in green space versus being in retail and commercial areas that have no trees. Also, meditative walking in the forest was the most effective at increasing happiness, defined as the presence of a positive emotional mindset. Psychologists know that being happy broadens how a person thinks about and acts in the daily flow of life’s efforts, creating positive intellectual and psychological resources.

Stress Reduction
Stress is a major contributor to ill health. Left unresolved, long-term stress can lead to immune system issues and illness. The experience of nature is one antidote to stress, and the body’s positive response is remarkably fast, occurring within minutes. Studies by environmental psychologists show that visual exposure to nature, in the form of trees, grass and flowers, can effectively reduce stress, particularly if initial stress levels are high.

Better Mental Health and Functioning
Experiences of nearby nature contribute to better mental health and improve one’s capacity to be productive according to Attention Restoration Theory. Modern life often demands sustained focus on projects, and this effort can lead to cognitive overload, bringing on irritability and an inability to function effectively, often with physical symptoms. Views or brief experiences of nearby nature help to restore the mind from mental fatigue, as natural settings provide respite from the highly focused attention needed for most tasks in school or at work. This may contribute to higher productivity in the workplace, as research shows that office workers with a view of nature are better able to attend to tasks, report fewer illnesses and have higher job satisfaction. Increased time of nature experience (up to 1.5 hours) increases the restorative effect.

Improved Mindfulness and Creativity
Contemporary lifestyles are very busy, and there is a greater need for intentional time-outs to be mindful. Studies of mindfulness workshops, held for both mentally healthy and clinically depressed individuals, show benefits of improved mood, cognitive function and immune response. Nature settings offer sensory inputs that are mentally restorative and can foster ideation. In a study of creative professionals, nature experiences enhanced creativity by evoking new ways of thinking, promoting curiosity and encouraging more flexible thinking. A nature recharge may support creativity, as the restored mind is better at analyzing and developing ideas.

Building Social Capital
Social capital, a critical condition for a host of community benefits, is formed from the interpersonal relationships of people and resulting supportive networks. The mere presence of landscape or trees appears to promote community connections. Views of green space from homes are linked to greater perceptions of well-being and neighborhood satisfaction. Public housing residents reported feeling more safe if their development had well-maintained landscaping, including trees and grass. Greener public housing neighborhoods tend to be safer, with fewer incivilities and less reported crimes. Active involvement in community greening and nature restoration projects also produces social benefits, including strengthening of intergenerational ties and organizational empowerment.

Scientific evidence should be the basis of future efforts to make cities more sustainable and sustaining. We now know that nearby nature — including small plots or parcels imbedded within all land uses — directly contributes to quality human habitat and is profoundly important for the health of mind and body. Integrations of parks and infrastructure goals can provide more opportunities for the nearby nature experiences that promote good health and sustain wellness.

Learn more about Dr. Wolf’s work.

Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D., is a Research Social Scientist with joint appointments at the University of Washington, College of the Environment, and the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

What They Say?

San Diego recreation

The San Diego Parks Foundation strives to connect all San Diegans to high-quality parks through philanthropic and volunteer contributions to the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, and to support the City’s mission to build a world-class inclusive park system that strengthens communities and provides equitable access to recreational opportunities.

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Co-Founder of Webflow

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JOHN SMITH
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JOHN SMITH
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JOHN SMITH
Co-Founder of Webflow

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JOHN SMITH
Co-Founder of Webflow

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JOHN SMITH
Co-Founder of Webflow

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Connecting San Diegans to high-quality parks throughout the City of San Diego