Los Angeles County's popular and award-winning Parks After Dark program offers multiple important benefits, as documented in a recent UCLA study.

2 minute read

August 23, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Clement Lau

View of Echo Park Lake at night with artesian fountain and illuminated swan paddle boats and Los Angeles skyline in background

ScottWelsch / Adobe Stock

The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) offers evening events each summer as part of the Parks After Dark (PAD) program. PAD brings communities together to enjoy various activities at 34 parks across the county. The program started in 2010 at three County parks and expanded to thirty-three parks in 2019.

For an eight-week period each summer, PAD extends hours of park operation by several hours at participating parks. The program offers family entertainment (like movies, concerts, arts and crafts, and free meals), sports and recreational activities (like swimming and dance), cultural and educational programming (like healthy cooking and financial literacy classes), and employment and volunteer opportunities for youth and adults. PAD parks also host resource fairs through which public agencies and community-based organizations provide health, social, economic, and legal resources to participants. Throughout all events, deputies from the Sheriff’s Department patrol and engage in activities alongside participants, which help to ensure safety and foster positive interactions between law enforcement and community members.

The program outcomes and benefits of PAD have been well-documented. According to a new evaluation by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 92 percent of people who attended a nighttime events program in L.A. County parks in the summer of 2022 felt safe. The program was also highly rated by attendees for giving them the chance to spend quality time with family (94 percent of respondents agreed) and providing a sense of belonging within community (93 percent agreed). About 96 percent of attendees said they would attend again. Among the study’s other findings:

  • 84 percent of people attended with children
  • 62 percent of attendees were Hispanic/Latinx and 19% were Black or African American
  • 89 percent of attendees agreed that deputy sheriffs engaged “positively” with community members
  • 81 percent of attendees participated in physical activity at the events

For more information, please read the PAD Evaluation Brief available here.

Monday, July 31, 2023 in UCLA Newsroom

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