A key component of our revised PX proposal is youth engagement, and how the center will fulfill the mission of the Presidio and GGNRA through expanded programming reaching inner city youth and their families.
We chatted with Ernesto Pepito (pictured above), Associate Director of Youth Leadership at the Conservancy, about the work of the Crissy Field Center and how it will collaborate on PX programs.
Q: How has working at the Crissy Field Center impacted you and your peers?
A: “I was brought on in the summer of 2001 to help design and implement a youth leadership program. At the time, there were volunteer opportunities at the park, but nothing that really focused on the needs of young people. I was really excited to bring that experience I had to the park. What really got me excited [about the Crissy Field Center] is that kids would design their own program, and because of that, it would be really exciting for them. That’s what’s kept me here—that same idea that this center is in this park for young people to shape what they view a park should be.”
Q: How have you seen the Center positively impact kids from different backgrounds?
A: “This park, by where it’s located, isn’t naturally a part of a lot of young people’s community. It’s not a place where they feel comfortable right away. I think the Center has had a big role in establishing this place as a destination for young people, too. Having young people come from the Bay View [neighborhood], which is on the opposite side of the city, that would take a two-hour bus ride to get here, to give them a sense of home and a sense of community broadens their scope to what their world is. To give them access to a place like this maybe challenges them to think about what other things they can explore or places to go.”
Q: What excites you about the Presidio Exchange proposal?
A: “The cool thing about the whole proposal is that it allows different people to be excited about it for different reasons. The biggest thing I’m excited that it will be shaped by the Bay Area community. There isn’t one theme or one person that owns the PX, it belongs to the Bay Area. I think many different communities will come to this national park not just once but repeatedly because of the partnerships we will have throughout the Bay Area.”