Making Improvements on the Field

Currently, we are replacing the worn and damaged artificial turf on our recreational field thanks to Pasadena Community Foundation for a grant they awarded for upper campus improvement and artificial turf. After 14 years of daily use, the field turf was in great need of replacement. The recreational field on our campus is used from dawn to dusk every day by the children that live at Hillsides who have behavioral issues and have been placed in our care by the Department of Children and Family Services.

Prior to 1996, Hillsides tried to maintain a traditional grass field. However, any grass that would grow on the 11,000 square foot field was quickly trampled by the constant morning to dusk use, revealing rock-hard packed dirt. In addition, we sustained high maintenance costs for regular watering, mowing, filling holes, and installing new sod and seed. For these reasons, we opted to use a durable outdoor synthetic turf material that could withstand the heavy use.

Our goal is to provide children, who have behavioral issues, with mental health treatment that will help them heal from the effects of prolonged and traumatic experiences. We give our children the opportunity to experience the normal activities of childhood such as after-school sports and summer camp. Recreation and physical activity are among the essential programs that we offer to support their recovery and wellness. Used by 150 vulnerable children who live at Hillsides Residential Treatment Center and attend the Hillsides Education Center, the field gives our staff a place where children can participate in physical activities, providing a context for our children to gain friendships, learn team building skills, develop self-esteem, build endurance and achieve better mental and physical health. Activities also provide a fun and stress-free environment for children who have spent much of their young lives enduring severe abuse and neglect.

Children at Hillsides participate in a full range of physical activities organized by our Recreation Department. These activities include: team sports such as baseball, football, basketball, field hockey, and soccer; calisthenics and dance; swimming; biking/roller skating; and track and field activities. Indoor activities are conducted in Hillsides’ recreation center while most outdoor activities are conducted on the large field centrally located to the recreation center and residential cottages.

The synthetic turf has proved to be the best option for the recreational field and has held up longer and better than we had anticipated. However, after some 14 years of hard use, the field turf was in great need of replacement. Much of the turf was threadbare and some areas were torn. These problems create slipping, tripping and other safety hazards for the children.  Now, thanks to the generosity of our funder, we are installing new, higher quality artificial turf.

The new turf, which will take two to three weeks to install, will help recreation staff to continue to develop a balanced fitness plan for all children despite the range of ages, physical capabilities and mental challenges. Children will be able to participate in all outdoor recreational sports and activities without the risk of slipping or tripping over holes and worn areas in the current turf. The old surface was removed and the ground re-graded. A wooden border has been installed. Next, the turf will be installed and then the sand and rubber fill goes in before smoothing it out.

While the artificial turf is being installed, the children are enjoying the pool more and are participating in indoor recreation center games in addition to off-campus activities that have been planned with the recreation staff.  We’ll bring you ongoing photos of the new improvements on the upper campus.

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