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Programs increase environmental awareness

Aside from sports, Parks and People also has a program called Kids Grow, which teaches elementary school students about the environment. Jean DuBose, assistant director of program development for Parks and People, said the program is held during after school hours, before many of the children's parents get home from work.

"It is documented time and time again that is when kids get in trouble; that's when they either become victims of violence or unfortunately perpetrate crimes and get up to no good," she said.

During that time children get tutored, work on homework and study the environment.

Parks and People also sponsors Urban Resources Initiative, which employs mostly college and graduate interns to research Baltimore's ecosystem.

Interns do tasks such as counting how many trees there are in Baltimore. DuBose said during the summer this year, URI will partner with the Department of Parks and Recreation to run a youth training program for teenagers.

"We're going to employ them. They'll get paid and they'll do projects in Baltimore city parks," she said.

URI's goals, DuBose said, are to give them a summer job, as well as teaching them job skills.

The community grants program is also a big component of Parks and People. They grant around $50,000 per year to neighborhood groups that want to do projects in their community.

"Whenever communities get together and think of things that would beautify their neighborhoods, make their neighborhood a better place," she said. "That has a big impact around the city."

No group can get more than a $1,000 each year and they have to take a training class before they can get a grant.

Parks and People is also involved with building the Gwynns Falls Trail, located in Gwynns Falls Park.

"We've got 11 miles of the trail that have [been] built now and eventually the trail will go from Lincoln Park, all the way to the Inner Harbor," DuBose said. "You'll be able to ride your bike or walk 14 miles. About 11 miles are finished now, so that's an incredible project."

Parks and People also holds community events throughout the year such as planting trees or the Disc Golf Tournament. According to Parks and People's 2002 annual report, disc golf is played like traditional golf and the game's popularity is attributed to the challenge of the throw and the social nature of the play.

"We do fun stuff, we run a disc golf tournament," Dubose said. "It's a fund-raiser, but we promote things in park and we want people to use the Baltimore Park system…There are so many great parks in this city, where you can take a walk, you can ride your bike and we want to support people doing that. We do events that bring people out to the parks."

For more information about Parks and People or to volunteer visit their Web site http://www.parksandpeople.org.

"We are always looking for people and groups to do things with," DuBose said.

Related Stories

Organization teaches kids Fundamentals of reading: The Parks and People Foundation helps kids struggling with reading skills through camps.

Sport programs help youth maintain positive GPA: As a way to keep kids interested in school, Parks and People sponsors many sport teams that require children to maintain at least a C average in their classes.

Trail to unite Baltimore City neighborhoods: Soon Baltimore City is going to be known for its green fields, clear streams and 14-mile long trail that connects 30 neighborhoods.

Transcription of Interview - People and Parks