Leadership Santa Barbara County participant Adam Hendel breaks ground at the Isla Vista Youth Projects tree planting day.

The words “isla vista” should rightly evoke an image of the ocean framed by eucalyptus trees and pelicans skimming the water against the backdrop of the Channel Islands. Instead, Isla Vista has come to mean all-night keggers, sofas abandoned on the street, and parties that litter the cliffs and beaches near UCSB. But partying students aren’t the only residents living there; thousands of adults and children call I.V. home who have nothing to do with the university.

So who is watching out for them? Since 1971, Isla Vista Youth Projects (IVYP) has provided free and low-cost childcare, parent education, and counseling for the families and children of I.V. Executive Director LuAnn Miller has been with the project since 1984, and today oversees programs that serve 180 children a year, 90 percent of whom are low-income.

Last October, Miller appealed to Leadership Santa Barbara County (LSBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing leaders and promoting community service. Of prime concern to her was the lack of shade and natural play space available at the project’s current location at 6842 Phelps Road. From among a group of candidates, LSBC chose IVYP to be the recipient of a service project. “When I return to my hometown and walk along the creeks, I don’t see the rope swings, forts, and foot trails that were commonplace in my youth,” explained Mike Osborn, a participant in LSBC 2009. “Transforming IVYP’s existing concrete and dirt play yard into an outdoor learning environment will provide that necessary hands-on, feet in the dirt, mind in the sky component to childhood development that the hundreds of kids who attend IVYP may otherwise go without.”

The project has attracted the attention of the Orfalea Family Foundation, which will fund the design process for further playground improvement. The project is actively seeking funds for playground construction; those interested in donating can visit ivyp.org/outdoor-classroom.html. On Friday, May 15, at 11 a.m., the public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting for the first phase of work. For more information, call 968-0488.


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