Bringing the Neighborhood Together

NJHI 2017: Next Generation Community Leaders Student Ambassadors for Community Health

The impact of our park revitalization on the Bound Brook, NJ community was really important to us at the onset of our project because we wanted a positive response. We hoped to make the lives of the people living in the vicinity of Mariposa Park more enjoyable by creating a new space where residents look forward to taking their kids to play and enjoy themselves. While this was the intended purpose, not everyone supported it at first. 

The nearest neighbor to the park initially was not keen on the idea because they thought it would make the area more active, and therefore, prone to nefarious activity. They articulated their beliefs to one of our coaches very clearly by saying they did not think revitalizing the park was a good idea and that it would lead us nowhere. However, we remained steadfast in our beliefs and continued our work.

As our project progressed, the neighbors saw the positive impact the park began to have on the community. Not only did the addition of colorful artwork, benches, and birdhouses liven up the area, but they noticed other community members visiting with their kids and showing their gratitude. The once skeptical neighbor came around and graciously let us use their hose to water newly planted flowers. This neighbor also brought us refreshments to make the summer heat more bearable. We were extremely thankful for these kind gestures because it was with this neighbor’s support that Mariposa Park came to be what it is today. This neighbor is just one example of the many people who came together to help us in our efforts.

For the first event we hosted in the park, we invited neighborhood children and their parents to join us to paint rocks and add their own decorative touches to the park to help them feel a sense of ownership. A great yoga teacher volunteered to come out and share her knowledge, and many of the children participated in their first yoga class. This is another illustration of the positive community response to our work. They were surprised this forgotten space once again welcomed them. It was an overall good atmosphere; everyone really enjoyed themselves that day. 

The entire community truly came together to see the final product come to fruition during our grand re-opening block party. The people in the neighborhood were our inspiration for this project. They were overjoyed and surprised at everything we had accomplished, and honestly I was too; it was quite the miracle. 

Connect with the Student Ambassadors for Community Health alumni and follow the team’s progress on Twitter. Track all of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams through the hashtag #NJLeaders2030.

The Grantee Blog regularly publishes updates from NJHI-supported communities. Bookmark this site to stay up-to-date and share in the work of building healthier communities across New Jersey.


Maida Ahmad
Somerset County 4-H / Middle Earth