A healthy community begins with our natural environment — clean air, water, and soil, all protected by strong management practices and high-quality public facilities. A healthy natural environment allows for local food production along with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, all of which benefit the physical health of our residents. Just as important is our interconnectedness between housing, transportation and well-being. Healthy residents rely on an urban environment where walking and biking are valued and used, helping to create and preserve vibrant, active neighborhoods that care for their vulnerable members.
Esther Simplot Park
This gorgeous public space is Boise Parks and Recreation’s latest addition to the “Ribbon of Jewels,” a series of parks donated to the city in honor of some of our finest women leaders. This park began with the city taking an area with many legacy contaminant issues and turning it into an amazing amenity for generations to enjoy for years to come. The 55-acre park offers a wide-range of recreational opportunities that enrich the community. Visitors can swim in multiple connected ponds, gain easy access to nearby Greenbelt paths, take time to reflect on Friendship Island and its beautiful views of the Boise Foothills and enjoy an afternoon with the entire family at the playground and children’s beach.
This innovative approach brings public and private partners together to offer free public preschool in identified Boise neighborhoods. Preschool is an important strategy to improve livability for the entire community: Early education before kindergarten has been identified as a key turning point in a young person’s life, increasing the likelihood of later success in academics, social and emotional well-being, and even earning potential. Early research has shown that more than 86 percent of children enrolled in Boise’s program scored at or above benchmark scores on the Idaho Reading Indicator, compared to just 53 percent of those not enrolled in the program. Early evidence has shown a positive impact on the students enrolled in the first two groups.
A New Partnership - Homelessness and Job Creation
In 2017, Boise Parks and Recreation partnered with Interfaith Sanctuary to hire people experiencing homelessness as park maintenance workers. The program was very successful and continues to grow, with more shelter residents gaining employment and moving into permanent housing. The pilot year started with fourteen participants, and next year’s group is anticipated to grow up to eighteen participants. The job program’s most important contribution might be to prove that homeless people with difficult pasts and challenging lives can become viable candidates for gainful employment — the foundation for a productive life. Because of the program, one participant is no longer homeless and another participant has progressed to a full-time regular employee.
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