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Community Groups Partner With Harvard Westlake on River Park

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A diverse array of community nonprofit organi-zations announced that they have formed partnerships with Harvard-Westlake School to develop educational and recreational programming at the proposed River Park in Studio City. The River Park will redevelop the facility now called Weddington Golf and Tennis into a multi-benefit recreational space that will be open for use by both the school community and Valley residents.

The groups partnering with Harvard-Westlake School include the Friends of the LA River (FoLAR), Angel City Sports, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, and the United States Tennis Association Southern California.

“We are privileged to be able to team up with these wonderful organizations that enrich the lives of many Angelenos,” said Rick Commons, Harvard-Westlake’s President and Head of School. “We envision the River Park as a community asset and an expression of our school’s mission of ‘purpose beyond ourselves.’”

Harvard-Westlake and FoLAR have entered into a wide-ranging education partnership that will be based at the River Park, creating more equitable access to environmental education in the area. The partnership includes public community programs and educational experiences for students from local K-12 public schools, as well as hardscape and landscape features that will enhance learning opportunities in River Park. 

“FoLAR is excited to expand the footprint of our K-12 River education programs to more students in the greater San Fernando Valley. Our mission is centered on building capacity for communities to advocate for the LA River, and connecting students to the river that runs through their city is one of the most important building blocks of that mission. Particularly students who have not historically had access to the river or its resources,” said Candice Dickens-Russell, FoLAR’s President and CEO.

The school and the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians will collaborate to develop and install educational monuments calling attention to the history and culture of the tribe’s ancestors who lived near the site of River Park. Tribal historians will collaborate with Harvard-Westlake students and faculty to conduct original research into aspects of indigenous life in the area that have not yet been fully documented. 

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to share our history and culture, and that of the area, with students and visitors to River Park,” said Rudy Ortega Jr., Tribal President of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. “We look forward to teaming up with Harvard-Westlake teachers to develop curriculum about native life and peoples of the San Fernando Valley.”

Angel City Sports will organize a wide variety of recreational activities at the facility, including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, track and field, and sitting volleyball. Angel City Sports will also provide hands-on educational experiences for Harvard-Westlake students, faculty, and staff to learn about and experience Paralympic sports, and to volunteer with the organization. 

“We are delighted to partner with Harvard-Westlake School and create new opportunities for athletes with disabilities to play sports at the River Park,” said Clayton Frech, Founder and CEO of Angel City Sports. “The River Park’s fields, courts, track, and pool will be built to the highest standards of accessibility, and we deeply appreciate the school’s commitment to offering these top-quality facilities to benefit the wider community, including those with disabilities.” 

As part of its partnership with USTA SoCal, River Park’s eight tennis courts will host USTA instructional programs, adult and junior teams and tournaments, social and cardio tennis, and coaching development programs. The River Park’s eight new lighted tennis courts will be open to the public daily when not in use by the school or a community organization, such as the USTA SoCal. 

“The River Park will bring eight new, high-quality tennis courts to Studio City, and we’re very excited to organize tournaments, instruction, and programming for adult and youth tennis players there through our partnership with Harvard-Westlake,” said USTA Southern California Executive Director, Trevor Kronemann. “River Park will provide new facilities for many sports, and we appreciate that the school is including tennis in its plans and providing access for many tennis players from our community. We look forward to River Park’s arrival and playing tennis there in the future!”

Designed by Gensler and Studio-MLA, the Harvard-Westlake River Park will transform the 16-acre property on Whitsett Avenue into a community athletic center and public park.  In addition to preserving and restoring the current Weddington clubhouse and café, putting green, and eight tennis courts, the project consists of a gymnasium, two soccer fields, a running track, and a swimming pool that will be available to students and local community residents, as well as six acres of park areas that will be publicly accessible from dawn to dusk.

For more details on the project, please visit www.hwriverpark.com


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