Though Mayor Michael Hancock has come under fire for some of his Denver Department of Parks and Recreation initiatives, including the now-canceled City Loop project in City Park, the mayor's office is celebrating an important parks-and-rec-related victory this week: More than 42,000 school-age children have enrolled in the MY Denver Card program, which gives kids ages five to eighteen free access to all city recreation centers, outdoor pools and public libraries. The year-old program exceeded its goal of registering 25,000 children in its first twelve months, according to the mayor's office.
"The overwhelming success of this program in just the first year gives me great hope that we are on the right track to fighting childhood obesity and giving our kids the benefits of a healthy, active and productive lifestyle," Hancock said in a release.
The goal is to get all of the estimated 90,000 eligible Denver children registered for a MY Denver Card and to expand the benefits that the card offers; those expanded benefits will be announced later this year.
The MY Denver Card program is being paid for by funds made available when voters passed Measure 2A in November 2012. Measure 2A, also known as "de-Brucing," freed Denver from the state-mandated limit on property tax revenue set by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and allowed the city to hire more police and firefighters and increase maintenance on streets and parks. According to Parks and Rec spokesman Jeff Green, Measure 2A also allowed his department to hire staff to focus solely on MY Denver Card programming.
The MY Denver Card program replaces a previous free program for kids called the My Place Program. The My Place Program offered free memberships to Denver Public Schools children who attended schools where 75 percent or more of the kids qualified for free or reduced lunch, an indicator of poverty. The MY Denver Card is more widely available.
"This is by far the biggest," Green says of Parks and Rec's past kids' programs.
More from our News archive: "Photos and video: Denver Zoo hand-raising twin clouded leopard cubs born this month."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at email@example.com
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.