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City of Oakland Park Awarded $100K Grant

Oakland Park, a City on the Move, keeps on moving, and soon it will be moving in an entirely different way.

This week, Mayor Matthew Sparks, Vice Mayor Jane Bolin and other City employees attended the United States Conference of Mayors. This non-partisan conference, held in Washington D.C. each January gives the mayors of cities with populations of over 30,000 a chance to meet and collaborate on various aspects of City government. 

Oakland Park Mayor Matthew Sparks with American Beverage Association President and CEO Katherine Lugar at the American Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 2020.

Yesterday, January 23, 2020 the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Association for a Healthy America awarded with the Childhood Obesity Prevention grant to fund “Oakland Park Paddle Club” program. The City Commission and Staff worked hard to earn this grant and it paid off to the tune of $100,000! 

Mayor Matthew Sparks speaks on behalf of the City of Oakland Park at the 2020 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards.

According to Mayor Matthew Sparks, “The Oakland Park Paddle Club will complement our wide array of existing programs that encourage the youth of our city to experience and enjoy healthy outdoor recreation.”

Vice Mayor Jane Bolin shared that “One of the great benefits of kayaking is that it offers both physical activity and emotional enjoyment all while having fun. Kayaking allows children to enjoy a part of Oakland Park that is not normally accessible to them.”

The program is designed to teach youth, ages 7 to 17, about wellness, including water safety, swim instruction, and healthy exercise. The program will focus on helping  participants achieve a full-body workout, improved balance, cardiovascular health, and increased strength. The City will provide all the necessary equipment, instruction and transportation to the waterways.

“The Oakland Park Paddle Club will provide a new outlet for family recreation while increasing the utilization of city park facilities and resources,” said Chris Casale, Oakland Park’s Acting Director of Parks and Leisure Services. “I’m excited about this program. It is an opportunity for children to try something new, and I think our residents will love it.”

Chris Casale, Oakland Park’s Acting Director of Parks and Leisure Services helps kids gear up for a fun day on the water.
Mayor Matthew Sparks works on his paddle boarding skills.
Vice Mayor Jane Bolin enjoy a day on the water with kids from the Oakland Park Paddle Club.

This program will take place at various venues throughout the City’s 118 acres of waterways. Casale and his staff are working in the final details of the program.

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* is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

Desiree Avila


Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 33 years. In addition to publishing, Désirée has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism.

Désirée consistently professionally develops herself and has earned several different professional designations and certifications in real estate including the PSA, e-Pro, AHWD, SRS, ABR, and SFR. She was also awarded the C2EX, Commitment to Excellence award by the National Association for Realtors (NAR). This award is given to Realtors® that distinguish themselves for their commitment to excellence in the real estate industry.

She is esteemed by her real estate colleagues and has consistently received 5 star reviews from her clients. Her philosophy about real estate is that being a Realtor® is a way of teaching and helping people, and in the process a real estate transaction may occur, that is to say her foremost priority is and has always been about helping others.

She is dedicated to her hometown of Oakland Park and works consistently on building and fostering a strong community. She is passionate about photography and loves to read books about history ; the more detail the better! In addition to English, Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.

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