The Wilshire Park Elementary School Native Habitat Garden held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 23 to celebrate the completion of a campus beautification project, which converted an asphalt playground into an outdoor learning environment.

This urban greening project, which was funded by a $110,000 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, was a joint development effort between KYCC and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The garden contains plants and trees that are native to the Southern California riparian and forest habitats and will provide hands-on experiential learning linked to California academic content standards. It also includes an ADA accessible walking path.

“KYCC has been working in the Koreatown community for 42 years,” said Ryan Allen, KYCC Environmental Services Manager. “We’re committed to the families and organizations that we work with. This educational outdoor space deepens our longstanding partnership with Wilshire Park Elementary School.”

KYCC and WPES have worked together for over a decade. The school has been the site of our Annual Holiday Carnival and Summer Day Camp for many years, and it is located across the street from our Wilton Center location. Many WPES attend KYCC’s after-school programs.

The project involved removing over 4,000 square feet of asphalt and many perennials that required extensive watering. The new garden includes 23 native shade trees and 220 shrubs, flowers and grasses. A dry riverbed and catchment basins were added for rainwater capture.

Combined, these elements will reduce the urban heat island effect, improve air and water quality, and conserve water and energy resources.

Two Certificates of Recognition were presented to the Native Habitat Garden—one from the Office of Monica Garcia from LAUSD District 2, and another from the Office of California State Senator Kevin de León. The ceremony also included a performance by the Wilshire Park second graders, who later distributed paper flowers to all the project participants.

“This is a community effort,” said Wilshire Park Principal LeighAnne Creary. “None of this could happen unless we are united as a community and we work together.”