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Clean Your Park Day

September 26, 2010 10:00 PM
 
Today (Sept. 27), is Clorox Clean Your Park Day – every year millions of kids get out and play soccer in local parks across the country and today is the day to get out and give your local park a hand.  
 
As a soccer player, coach, referee or administrator, we know that you spend a lot of time out at your local park having fun, playing with friends and working on your game.  Just because you are always careful to clear up the track around your team bench after the game, doesn't mean the rest of the park couldn't use a little pick up. Today is all about giving something back to your local park by going out to clean up some trash or to organize a group of people to do the same.
 
Below are some simple steps to help you organize a Clean Your Park Day.
 
Step 1 – Find a park or playground. The best place to start is your local soccer park. You love to hang out there, so why not clean it up and make it look great? Start by checking out http://www.takepride.gov/index.html for information about volunteering, grants for your project and how to publicize your event.
 
Step 2 – Make a plan. Start by looking around the park and deciding what improvements need to made. Is there a lot of trash and clutter that needs to be cleaned up? Does the playground equipment need a fresh coat of paint or a few pieces repaired? Would a few new plants or flowerbeds add some life to the landscaping? Are the sidewalks and courts around the soccer field clear, or would one quick sweep make them safer for everyone to walk on? Take notes on what needs to be done and build a winning plan that will make your soccer park a cleaner place to play. Click here for a check list to make sure you don't skip any important steps. You can find more creative ideas for improving your park here: http://www.kidsgardening.com/.
 
Step 3 – Contact the important people. Set up a meeting with someone in your town/city government's parks and recreation department and tell them what's going on. Explain to them what you want to do and what your plans are. They might be able to help provide you with trash bags and clean up equipment, as well as check to see if anything you want to do require a special permit. Having specific ideas will definitely make you appear more professional and serious, so try and approach them with a detailed plan and they can help you build upon it.
 
Step 4 – Recruit friends, your team and find necessary equipment. Find a good group of people to help you out – it could be your soccer team or club. Ask them what they are good at and assign people to certain tasks. Also, ask them what tools they or their parents may have that you could use. Some things you may need include: rakes, brooms, ladders, shovels, paint, paint brushes, buckets, wheelbarrows and flowers/plants/seeds. Be sure that you are safe while cleaning your park, for tips go to http://www.nps.gov/pais/naturescience/c-up-safety.htm.
 
Step 5 Try to find donors. You don't need to, but maybe you can find a local business or your friend's parents who would be willing to donate time, money or items such as new paint. It doesn't hurt to ask! Before you go visit the businesses, put together a contact sheet you can leave in case the person you need to talk to is not in the office; include your contact information and information about the event.
 
Step 6 – Tell people about it. Get the word out and let people know about how awesome the park looks and how excited kids will be with the clean space or changes that you and/or your group made.  After all your hard work, you want to make sure that people use the area. Maybe you can encourage everyone to come out for a huge picnic after you're done to enjoy the area or an open play day for soccer.
 
Step 7 – Put your plan into action and clean up! Make the park or playground look like new. Make sure everything you do is focused on safety during the project and when you are planning the final result. Take before and after pictures for bragging later and submit them to the Youth Soccer Month photo gallery at sholtz@usyouthsoccer.org or add to the Youth Soccer Month Facebook page.
 

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