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At right, Teresa Reyburn and Eddie Galarza report to the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission about the progress of the Mayor's Task Force on Youth Safety.  

The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission heard reports on programs aimed at quality of life issues for Santa Maria's young and old alike on Tuesday afternoon at city hall.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Safety recently wrapped up work on its first goal of creating a strategic plan to effect change when it comes to Santa Maria Valley’s younger residents.

The Recreation and Parks Department, along with the Santa Maria Police Department and the City Manager’s Office, manages the city’s portion of the task force and will work to implement the strategies the group created.

“We had people come to the table from all walks of life,” said Teresa Reyburn, Recreation and Parks Department recreation services manager.

Reyburn called the strategic plan a “framework for action” with a “project approach.”

During the course of creating the plan, the task force and city leaders reached out to the community in multiple ways.

One of the things the officials learned was there weren’t many recreation options for older teens.

Reyburn said her department, through the plan, will work to combat that by creating programs like night-time basketball games and clinics.

The Recreation and Parks Department is also home to the key part of implementing any community-based strategy, as the city’s Community Outreach Coordinator Eddie Galarza is a member of the department, based at the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center.

Galarza works to mediate problems within the community while creating and managing programs that will help provide more opportunities for growth in the community.

Recently, Galarza visited Los Prietos Boys Camp, a center for justice-involved juveniles. Wards of the camp have to earn their way out of the 17-acre facility north of Santa Barbara. 

Galarza said he conducted a survey of the boys at the center about what they want to help them succeed upon their release.

“They want jobs. They wanted classes on writing a resume,” said Galarza.

The city’s Outreach Coordinator said he strives to works with all the city’s youth; no matter race, age or if they are in a gang.

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“We are here to help,” Galarza said.

The Santa Maria City Council is expected to conduct a public hearing, review and vote on the Mayor’s Youth task Force on Youth Safety at a future city council meeting.

Also on Tuesday, Barbara Wiley, recreation coordinator, updated the Recreation and Parks Commission on its programs for active senior citizens.

Wiley said the department works to create programs so Santa Maria senior citizens can socialize and stay active. Many of the programs are created in conjunction with the Santa Maria Valley Senior Citizens Club, though membership in the club is not required for participation.

The city’s Elwin E. Mussell Senior Citizens Center is home to yoga classes, chair aerobics sessions and mahjong matches.

The center is also home to monthly dances complete with live music thanks for a grant acquired by the senior citizens club.

For more information about the programs the city’s Recreation and Parks Department program, visit www.cityofsantamaria.org.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.

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