Boys death leads to positive change in University Area

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It took the death of a six-year-old little boy to inspire change in the University Area neighborhood. 

Now, three years later, kids have a safe place to play out of the street.

A garden memorial marks the spot where little Yves Zamora lost his life along 20th Street. The six-year-old was playing on a scooter he got for his birthday two weeks earlier and rolled into the street.

“I remember my sister called me and she told me Yves got hit by a car and he’s not breathing,” said Georgina Camarillo.

July marked three years since the accident, but for loved ones, the pain is still raw.

“Nothing’s gonna bring him back, and nothing’s gonna change what we feel or what happened,” Camarillo said.

What the tragedy did do was highlight some deep seeded issues in the neighborhood.  And the University Area Community Development Corporation vowed to make changes.

“We pledged to build not only a park but a playground so kids don’t have to play in the streets,” said UACDC CEO Sarah Combs.

Friday, the Harvest Hope Park Playground was dedicated, and five art installations at the park were unveiled.

There’s a flourishing neighborhood garden, and it’s clear the jungle gym is already a big hit.

“It’s cool, and we all get to play and have fun and I get to enjoy it a lot,” six-year-old Ellianna Burrus said.

The project is part of a larger effort to transform the area, starting with the seven-acre park in the heart of the community.

“Next will be building a multi-purpose sports field, walking trails, lighting, fencing, sidewalks all here at the park to truly bring a place where residents and children can come together and play safely,” said Combs.

Something long-term residents say can only make the area better.

“It’s building it up, it’s building unity, its building structure,” Albert Burrus said.

The University Area CDC doesn’t plan on just stopping with this park, the group has been buying vacant lots nearby and will be building two homes for single mothers in the next few months.