Raton High School students and those from the surrounding area will soon begin working with the city’s Housing Authority to build park benches for the Raton Dog Park and the Regional Aquatic Center’s walking path. The new benches are designed to use the concepts of regional food, farming, ranch food sourcing and to utilize the long and storied history of the Raton area.
The Housing Authority wants to extend an invitation to interested children in the area to get involved in this fun, summer community project that’s funded through a $1.5 million federal grant from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), which is also working with multiple public agencies throughout the United States “to increase their capacity to provide meals and snacks and nutrition education, and to adopt healthy eating and physical activity practices and policies. This cohort will provide insight into the barriers rural communities face in providing these services to children, as well as the assets these communities can leverage to improve health outcomes,” according to the NRPA website. Raton is one of 3 New Mexico communities participating in this year’s program, with other New Mexico communities including Sandia and Socorro.
Part of an ongoing partnership between the NRP and the Walmart Foundation, Funding will be used to support the innovative strategies, including meal service equipment, transportation, staffing, marketing, healthy living opportunities, family engagement and enrichment activities, including nutrition education and community gardening, among other projects. In addition, these yearlong grants provide numerous opportunities for collaboration, networking, training and technical assistance to ensure that grantees can sustain this work in the future, according to the website: www.nrpa.org.
Please contact Coleen Sanchez Garcia, housing manager, at the housing authority with any questions at 575-445-8021 for more information. The students will create the benches by developing the images for the benches, and then participating in the actual painting of the benches. A potentially wonderful experience for area children, the project will teach them art skills and give them a connection to the place they call home, and give them a place where they can show others the process of creating their own permanent artworks.
The benches will be created at the Gateway Metal Building, located at 917 S. Second St. in Raton, and starts at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 3. Meeting times will be Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. until noon until the project is finished. Noon meals for the kids will be furnished free at the nearby Legion Park, with parents able to pick up their kids after the noonday meal.
Sanchez Garcia said that it was a one-time program intended to foster the historic connection between the railroad industry and the history of food production in the Raton, speaking in a Monday, July 29 phone call. “This is a small program with limited grant funding that’s intended to tie into our summer food program for kids,” she said. “The kids will create seven new benches and place them in key public locations. The idea is to keep kids healthy by helping them learn about good nutrition and sound farming practices.”
It should be an ideal activity for kids looking for a fun, end of summer project. The Raton Housing Authority would like to extend an invitation to young people in Raton and the surrounding areas to get involved in this community project sponsored through an NEPA Grant.
The main offices of the Raton Housing Authority are located at 309 Parsons Ave., where hours of operation are from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. Raton Housing Authority provides low income housing options and assistance. The Housing Authority has 156 units for low-income families, and 68 of those units are for the elderly and disabled, according to the city website at: www.ratonnm.gov.