Text from Carla's June 10 2013 speech at West Potomac High School. Photo by Louise Krafft, Mount Vernon Gazette.
Hello, my name is Carla Castro-Claure. I am 17 years old and I’ve spent most of my childhood in Audubon Moblie Home Park.
I played in these streets and lived around the corner form these vacant buildings and parking lots. It was a hard time for me. My grades suffered. But now I am a leader in my school. I am the chorographer of our Latin dance team, Vice president of DECA and a Nationals finalist for business law and ethics.
Audubon Mobile Home Park, which is now predominantly Latino, has over 711 mobile homes and next door Murraygate Village, predominant African American, West African and Latino, has over 200 public housing units. But there is not an easily walkable public park near our neighborhood. Youth either have to cross the highway or walk over 1.3 miles.
The issues of safety and positive youth activities in Audubon are personal to me because I lived it and my family is still living it. My little sisters are age 3 and 7. They are being raised in Audubon. I want to use the leadership skills I learned to fight for them to have a better experience there than I did.
First, we want to turn an underutilized parking lot into a soccer field.
This field will allow us to have a soccer team and other healthy activities in our neighborhood.
To do this, we need Supervisor McKay to help us negotiate a 10-year lease or land use agreement and help us to secure approximately $60,000 to install a sport court surface. The US Soccer Foundation makes grants to build soccer fields in neighborhoods like ours but we need to have at least a 10-year agreement for the space.
Second, we want to turn one of the vacant commercial spaces into a larger neighborhood center for Audubon & Murraygate.
Here we can have youth programming, adult English classes, school and community events. In the Sacramento Neighborhood, just 3-miles south of us in Lee District, UCM & Fairfax County fund a neighborhood center. In Arlington, they built a neighborhood center in a former Safeway Grocery store. HomeGoods recently closed leaving a huge space right in our backyard. We need your help Supervisor McKay to help us get a lease for one of these vacant spaces and fund a neighborhood center.
Bring me with you to the negotiations and I’m sure we will come out with a good deal.
Finally, we know there are many neighborhoods like Audubon & Murraygate that are not near enough to parks, have no community center or a center that is over capacity. We want both Supervisor Hyland & Supervisor McKay to help us secure planning funding for a large, full-service, low-fee recreation and community center with transportation for Route One youth. For example, the former Mt Vernon HS and current ISA school has fields, a gymnasium, classrooms, and borders a public pool. This space could be future community center that has the capacity to serve the huge youth population in our area.
I believe this is a positive vision for our community. VOICE, West Potomac & Mt Vernon High School, will you stand with me to accomplish it?