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Abstract: As the fiscal crisis worsens, local governments are cutting basic services or converting to fee-based and privatized approaches that penalize the poor. Even city parks and community centers, the heart of recreational social activity for children and families of the inner city, are being drained of community life by neoliberal policies and budgetary austerity. This article reports on a community-based participatory action research project that investigated a fee increase policy enacted by the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department and the negative impacts this policy had on children living in Sulphur Springs, one of Tampa's poorest neighborhoods. [public policy, participatory action research, children and youth]