The New and Improved Lennox Park

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By Scott Chan

We are so happy to share the good news about the changes that have been made at Lennox Park. The walking trail, which has been a long-time advocacy project of the Tongan Community Service Center and APIOPA, is now complete along with new workout equipment, which has instructional signs in English, Spanish, and TONGAN! It has taken some time to achieve these goals, but it finally happened.

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To give some background on how all this came to be, our Program Director Scott Chan and collaborative leader Alisi Tulua, helped to mobilize youth from Ta’ahine ‘O Moana, and collected over 40 surveys from the Tongan Lennox United Methodist Church. Ta’ahine ‘O Moana is a collective group of young Tongan women with Alisi as their inspiring leader to help empower and strengthen their voices.

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With the park being so close to the church and to local Tongans who live in the neighborhood, they were asked what changes they’d like to see for them to feel safe enough to utilize one of the very few parks in Lennox they have access to. A brand new walking trail was among the top suggestions and from there, Scott, Alisi, and Fifita Tutoe began to meet with Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas’ office to advocate for the trail. After two years of fighting, they agreed to build the trail as well as workout equipment. F.A.B. continued the work and the next goal was to advocate for Tongan translations for the signs of the trail and equipment, which the Department of Parks and Recreation agreed to.

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Such improvements do not only bring out the power of community when we unite our voices together, but it shows that our voices matter. It’s time to shift the narrative of an area that most Tongans feel unsafe in, to a safer and healthier one. We have a right to have access to safe parks in our local neighborhoods because our health matters. Local law enforcement officials are also working hard to maintain peace and safety. We are anxious to raise awareness about the changes with the Tongan community, and show them their ideas came to life so that they can prolong theirs and future generations to come!

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