Middle school track and field upgrade brings neighborhood together

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From running after a soccer ball to running on a track, the kids and adults in Segundo barrio have been given the feel of getting a fast break off the starting line of a track.

Former Guillen Middle School student Angel Luna made a vow to himself. He promised to run everyday of the year after work to be fit and healthy.

“I had made a goal for the year. I made a promise for myself to come everyday, for the whole year now,” Luna said. “I actually play for a soccer team also on the weekends, so this is apart of my exercise during the week.”

Thanks to the city’s Strategic Revitalization Strategy, Luna is able to fulfill his vow. The track was developed through Community Development Block Grant., said Gustavo Reveles, assistant director at the Office of Community Engagement at EPISD. The CDBG is an entitlement program that awards annual grants to large cities, even urban counties.

The 40 year old track was refurbished in 2013 at Guillen Middle School, it is in the Segundo Barrio the oldest neighborhood in El Paso. It was among a series of initiatives in the city of El Paso’s neighborhood revitalization strategy to improve “quality of life for residents in distressed neighborhoods.” The city reported that, according to the 2000 U.S Census, the median household income in the area is $10,240 and 41 percent of households earn less than $10,000. Many of the residents are immigrants from Juarez.

“It lets them know that the community is behind them because they see the people there, they see that when the people come and enjoy the school they have a very special campus. I know that Guillen is a proud school and a good community,” Reveles said.

The people in Segundo Barrio enjoy the track and its other features.

On a recent summer evening people were walking or running the track, and on the opposite side playing basketball. Some parents were watching their Segundo Barrio Futbol Club playing in the center of the field.

“Vamos Segundo, vamos!”

Grant planner Roxanne Varela said in an email “I have seen people running the track in the morning. There have been no reports of vandalism, and the neighbors try to keep it clean.”

Luna said the track contributes to the neighborhood’s strong community.

“So now that they fixed it and everything I see more people coming in to do some exercise, have fun and to play. I have seen they use the field now for the little ones, which I think is a good thing because I think these people are the future. They’re gonna be the ones that are gonna do something for the community,” Luna said.

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