Parks Pals help tidy up and plant flowers and shrubs

Park Pals are the hearts of our parks, helping out voluntarily to look after our green areas and tidy up any litter. Titta Leikkari is a local resident who has been a Park Pal for several years already. She tells us that she has gained many new friends, as well as a good feeling and, of course, a cleaner neighbourhood.

A resident of the Punavuori district in Helsinki, Titta Leikkari loves spending time outdoors in the parks. For city dwellers like Titta, Helsinki’s green parks are blessings, without which nature would be much less accessible. One day while out for a walk, Titta noticed that her beautiful local park was full of trash. She was so upset that she decided right then and there to do something about it. So she grabbed her phone a dialled the number for “Aunt Green”.

“Aunt Green is the project manager in charge of environmental education at the City of Helsinki, and she encouraged me to organise a meeting for local residents. The district in which I live has its own residents’ association, so we invited Aunt Green to attend our next meeting. She told us about the volunteer activities in the city’s green areas, so we started our own Park Pals programme for our own park,” Titta says, standing in the beautiful Sinebrychoff Park in southern Helsinki.

 

Parks belong to the city’s residents

Park Pals is a project coordinated by the Helsinki City Public Works Department that offers residents who care for their parks an opportunity to help take care of their own local green areas.

“Our aim is to offer residents the chance to participate in caring for and looking after their own living environment. Our parks belong to the residents and not just the municipality,” emphasises Project Manager Armi Koskela.

So far Park Pal Titta Leikkari has mostly helped out collecting trash together with other Park Pals, but there are lots of other gardening jobs involved, such as raking leaves, planting flowers and shrubs, weeding, and watering and tending to the flowers.

The idea for Park Pals has come from similar projects in other countries. According to Armi Koskela, the possibilities are almost endless, so long as the rules are clear to everyone.

“The project is still very new to us, and we are still honing our operations. Essentially we provide the gardening tools and general advice, as all volunteers are welcome and no prior experience is required. After registering with the Public Works Department, volunteers are given a safety vest and trash grabbers. This gets them off to a good start,” Koskela says.

Park Pals can be spotted by their vests

In addition to a positive attitude, of course, trash grabbers and safety vests are the main assets for Park Pals. Park Pals can be seen in all of the city’s parks, as the project is active wherever residents live.

“It has been really easy to attract volunteers, including children who like to accompany their parents. Above all this work provides a great feeling of satisfaction, as well as a tidy and beautiful living environment and the chance to get to know your neighbours,” Leikkari adds.

 
 

Park pals in Suomenlinna

By becoming a park pal at Suomenlinna Helsinki residents have the chance to participate in the upkeep of a UNESCO [...]

Environmental education