Guam - Island Girl Power has embarked on a very ambitious project that can have an impact on each and every one of us. Its' called the Friends of the Park project. And if you're reading this, consider this a call to action.

"We do wonderful job with some of our major parks but these neighborhood parks are literally in the backyards of kids and these 12 parks in Dededo are just a few of the 50 islandwide," explained Marie Benito, a project coordinator and volunteer for Friends of the Park. Since March the non-profit organization along with several private businesses, military and community volunteers and volunteers from Americorp have been cleaning up a neighborhood park right in the heart of Kaiser, Dededo.

According to IGP's Juanita Blaz it was by chance they uncovered a chain of parks that were forgotten over time. "A couple of years ago we were putting in to GHURA for a community block grant for renovation of these buildings and we went on Google Earth and we found the parks across the street in Kaiser," she recalled.

The parks have gone neglected for over 30-40 years. What once were playgrounds for children were transformed into illegal dumps, and a haven for criminal activity. The idea behind the friends of the park project is to reclaim the parks for our children not only so they have a safe place to play but also to promote physical activity. This in turn will help curb high incidences of chronic diseases like diabetes and childhood obesity.  Blaz added, "There's a criminal element now in these green spaces now and we need to clear the parks so we can see what goes on back there so our kids can have a safe place to stay."

Although the cleanup continues, there are plans now to make sure that the work that's done here doesn't go to waste. There are plans to construct a fence around the park's perimeter and to engage local sports federations to provide clinics and competitions for neighborhood children. Both Juanita and Marie are in it for the long haul and hope you'll join the effort and become a Friend of the Parks project.

Benito said, "We're hoping to start with this park and move one park at a time and hopefully open up more of them," with Blaz chiming in with, "That's what its all about we need the families to start caring again about these park spaces."

For more information about the Friends of the Parks project contact Island Girl Power or the Dededo Mayors Office at 632-5203.