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Immigrant volunteers win award for transforming Leif Ericson Park

A group of dedicated volunteers who turned a litter-filled section of Leif Ericson Park in Bay Ridge into a welcoming space for immigrant families and senior citizens has won accolades from city officials and parks advocates for their work.

Parent Child Relationship, a group formed by Asian-American parents, was a big winner at the Sixth Annual It’s My Park Awards held March 27 at thevPrince George Ballroom in Manhattan.

The awards are sponsored by Partnership for Parks, a public-private partnership between the City Parks Foundation and the New York City Parks Department that promotes the city’s recreation areas and assists grass-roots groups that work to improve parks.

Parent Child Relationship, also known as PC Relationship, won the Golden Trowel Award for Brooklyn for its efforts to transform Leif Ericson Park into a clean, safe space. The group is led by Nicole Xueqin Huang, Yong Feng Zhu, Yan Feng Zheng, Yunqian Lin and Iris Ng.

“We are honored to support PC Relationship and celebrate their achievements,” Partnership for Parks Director Sabina Saragoussi told this newspaper in an email. “They have transformed Leif Ericson Park into a hub of activity for the Asian community, engaging everyone from toddlers to seniors in volunteering. Through this effort, they’ve also strengthened the bond between families, enriching the well-being of the entire neighborhood.”

Saragoussi was one of the speakers at the awards dinner, along with City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and City Parks Foundation Executive Director Heather Lubov.

The group’s goal is to promote civic participation and foster deeper bonds between parents and children through multi-generational service projects like park cleanups.

Shortly after the group was founded in 2016, PC Relationship members rolled up their sleeves and started working in Leif Ericson Park, holding several cleanup campaigns to spruce up the area.

Leif Ericson Park runs from Fourth Avenue to Fort Hamilton Parkway, between 66th and 67th streets. PC Relationship concentrated its efforts in the section of the park located near Eighth Avenue.

“It is where a lot of Chinese immigrants live,” group member Ng told this newspaper. Many local residents live in houses with no backyards and no green space, according to Ng. “They don’t have a place for their kids to play,” she said.

PC Relationship had a daunting task at first. “When we started, there were a lot of needles on the ground from people using drugs. There was also a lot of bottles and cigarettes,” Ng said.

Before long, the park was clean and local residents started once again to bring their children. And senior citizens started coming back to the park.

“We wanted to start the group because we believe cleaning a park can deepen the connection between parents and their children. Parents have told us that their kids no longer play video games. They want to go to the park,” Ng said.

In addition to cleaning the debris out of the park, PC Relationship started hosting family-oriented events in the park, including a Lunar New Year celebration, an Easter egg hunt, a fitness program and a back-to-school celebration.

“April 14 will be our third Easter Egg Hunt. Last year, we had more than 2,000 people,” Ng said.

Within two years, PC Relationship was looking to expand. At that point, the group began working in Sunset Park.

Word started to spread about the group’s success. In 2018, PC Relationship received a Capacity Fund Grant from Partnerships for Parks and obtained its non-profit 501c3 status from the Internal Revenue Service, a move that allowed it to raise funds on its own.For more information on the It’s My Park program, visit: www.partnershipsforparks.org

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