What started as an effort by two El Paso moms to bring more shade to public parks has become an organic movement that has sparked more area parents to become involved in their community.
And with the help of the Paso del Norte Foundation, says co-founder Adrianne Riley Moody, the organization has ballooned in just one year.
“It’s been very heart-warming, growing so much in just a little over a year,” Moody said. “I don’t think we could have done it all without the help of the Paso del Norte Foundation. They’ve been mentors for finding grants and other resources, they helped us get our 501(c)(3), they take care of all our financial responsibilities and our donations. They have a beautiful relationship with the community, so to have that backing is a blessing.”
Moody said that with the Paso del Norte Foundation handling all of the heavy lifting when it comes to finances, donations and other resources like grants, she and her fellow co-founder Leyla Zeidan Safa are free to work on achieving Moms On Boards’ goals.
Moms On Board was founded in 2017 when Moody and Safa went before City Council to propose (and win!) more shade for children at city spray parks. Since then, Moms On Board has grown from 300 Facebook followers to more than 5,400 moms and parents looking for ways to participate in helping to make the community better and safer for their children and families including an ordinance for all new playgrounds to have more share.
What’s next for this group of super-moms? The design and construction of an all-inclusive park where children of all abilities can play together.
“A mother in our organization, Atheal Flores, has two boys on the autism spectrum,” Moody said. “She saw a video on Facebook about a kid in a wheelchair who couldn’t play with other kids. Kids with autism have the same challenges; they may be sensitive to noise, distractions or new environments. The video inspired Atheal and it started a lot of discussion on our Facebook page about bringing kids of all abilities together. All signs led to us trying to create an All-Inclusive Park.”
The organization first went to the City of El Paso with its idea. The City loved the idea so much, it decided to build five mini-All-Inclusive parks throughout El Paso. “That was great, we loved that idea,” Moody said. “But we still wanted there to be a destination All-Inclusive Park with different activities, paddle boats, a dino-dig, a garden, sensory tunnels for autistic children, and other fun stuff.”
Moms On Board looked to El Paso County and came up with the idea of pitching in with the revitalization of Ascarate Park.
“We want the park to be in a central location, near hospitals for people who come from out of town to bring their kids to doctor’s appointments,” said Moody. “We thought, how nice would it be to also help revitalize Ascarate?”
El Paso County agreed to allocate part of the park on the north side of Ascarate Lake to the All-Inclusive Park. The park will also include a walking path around part of the lake.
With the land secured, Moms On Board is now working with other organizations that advocate for children with special needs such as autism and down syndrome to raise the needed funds to build the park before handing it over to the County for upkeep.
Other upcoming Moms On Board projects include a Back-To-School Health Fair at the Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus on August 11 th and MOB The Vote, a voter registration drive that includes providing busy parents with curbside childcare while they go to the polls.