Park system offers programs in Spanish

Children enjoy discovering creatures during a Metro Parks nature camp at which only Spanish was spoken.

(Posted Jan. 2, 2017)

By Christine Bryant, Staff Writer

As the Hispanic population continues to grow in central Ohio, a local parks system is implementing programs to bridge cul-tural differences.

“Traditionally, outdoor recreation and education in the United States has been viewed as inaccessible to minorities and hasn’t been a cultural mainstay,” said Ricardo Granados, a naturalist with Darby Creek Metro Park, located near West Jefferson. “We want to connect this community with our natural resources in a way that is relevant to them, and part of that is to bridge the language gap.”

Many Metro Parks visitors are in the process of learning English but haven’t yet mastered it, he said.

“So, being able to communicate with them in a way that is comfortable for them is really important,” Granados said.

To increase the parks’ inclusiveness, naturalists are offering programs in Spanish, ranging from general recreation to nature education programming.

“They change seasonally and from year to year, but we’ll do fishing programs, hikes, owl programs. We had footgolf this past year, and we’ll also do programs on the tram, just to name a few,” Granados said.

Though the organization doesn’t have any hard numbers on how many Spanish-speaking residents visit the parks each year, Granados says Metro Parks does have anecdotal evidence.

“During the picnicking season, there are certain evenings when over 80 percent of visitors to Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park are Latino,” he said. “As the Latino population has increased in Columbus, so has the number of visitors to our parks.”

With the increase in Spanish-language programs, he said, the parks system has seen another increase as well.

“This past year was no different, with a steep increase in the number of attendees,” Granados said.

The response from the community as a whole has been positive, he said.

“People are very appreciative of the fact that Metro Parks has made the effort to make sure that we connect more and more people to our resources each year, and our attendance has shown that,” he said. “We have been making large strides to understand what it is that the community wants and needs, and we’re trying to have more and more people learn about what Metro Parks has to offer to people from all walks of life.”

To learn more about Spanish-language programs that the Metro Parks system offers, go to metroparks.net and click on “Upcoming Programs” under the Programs and Activities tab. Under the “Category” drop down menu, click “En Espanol” and hit “Submit.”

Upcoming park programs in Spanish

• Observación de Aves

When: 9 a.m. Jan. 7

Where: Battelle Darby Creek, 2705 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway

Details: Learn how to use binoculars and identify birds during a walk.

• Caminata de Invierno—Winter Hike

When: 2 p.m. Jan. 15

Where: Prairie Oaks, Darby Bend Lakes, 2755 Amity Road, Hilliard

Details: 1-, 3- and 5-mile hikes.

• Pájaros Carpinteros

When: Noon Jan. 21

Where: Battelle Darby Creek, 1775 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway

Details: Learn about the carpenters of the bird kingdom.

• Santos del Reino Natural

When: 3 p.m. Jan. 21

Where: Battelle Darby Creek, 1415 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway

Details: Explore the complex relationship between animals.

• Adaptaciones de Invierno

When: 3 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: Battelle Darby Creek, 1415 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway

Details: Learn about how animals survive during the winter.

• Lobos

When: 1 p.m. Feb. 12

Where: Battelle Darby Creek, 1415 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway

Details: A live wolf from Ironwood Wolves will come to the nature center. This program will be in English, but will have Spanish interpretation.

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