By Brian CHERNICK
Glendale’s successful efforts to strengthen the city’s youth community through after-school sports programs was recognized with the Henry Reining Outstanding Organization Award last month by the American Society for Public Administration.
One Glendale is part of the city’s Parks and Open Space Foundation – a non-profit organization that supports “open space activities that enrich the entire community” – and currently serves 960 students in the fourth and fifth grade.
The One Glendale program, in partnership with the Glendale Unified School District, works to enhance youth self-esteem, combat bullying and obesity and teach leadership skills through organized sports.
“This is a free organized sports program for children who cannot afford AYSO, club soccer [and] club basketball,” director of Community Services and Parks Onnig Bulanikian said. “The most successful parts of the program are that the students are learning to lead instead of bullying, [and] teamwork, discipline and school pride.”
The city also set out to “increase daily physical activity” and “reduce screen time” while also encouraging an “increased consumption of nutritious foods” and decrease the “consumption of sugar/high-fat foods like soda, junk food, and fast food.”
According to studies, the program has seen tremendous success in these goals. A poll of parents whose children had participated in the program found that 84% of parents agreed that their children had lost weight, 88% said their children were choosing to eat fruits and 87% said their child’s grades were improving.
These results showed a 20-point improvement over last year’s survey in weight loss and grade improvement.
One Glendale started off as a pilot program with four elementary schools in the 2015-16 fiscal year and has since expanded to an additional four schools in south Glendale for the 2016-17 year, with plans to expand even further in the future, according to Bulanikian.
The Henry Reining Outstanding Organization Award is an annual recognition of significant contributions to good government or improved quality of life in Southern California. Glendale has won the award once before, in 2015, for high levels of resident satisfaction with the direction of the city and government, in particular with the response to the 2008 recession.