Editor’s Note: Green schoolyards are a project of the Trust for Public Land, the author of this article. According to Rebecca Bullis of TPL,
“The idea behind our schoolyards program is that most of these spaces are underutilized, vacant, and covered in hot asphalt. Our hope is to transform these spaces into shared public parks, to not only provide schools with useable space for their students to play and learn, but to make these spaces open to the public after hours as park space the entire community can use. We authored a report earlier this fall, “Community Schoolyards™ projects: A game-changing solution to America’s park equity problem”, that details our strategy and ideas. According to our data, opening all of America’s public schoolyards during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of nearly 20 million people.
This schoolyard was transformed with existing space at the school. I will have to check on the materials the turf is made from but our Community Schoolyards projects deploy a number of water-capture strategies, from engineered soils beneath the turf fields to roomy tree pits to rain gardens to capture stormwater and reduce flooding.
The schoolyard will feature green infrastructure permeable pavers and trees to help reduce flooding and an outdoor classroom area for students.
STATEN ISLAND, NY – The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the New York Road Runners (NYRR), today unveiled a newly renovated schoolyard at I.S. 7R Elias Bernstein School in Staten Island.
The new schoolyard teachers and students and will include a include a running track, bleachers, turf field, recycling centers, benches and game tables, basketball hoops, trees, and an outdoor classroom area. Green infrastructure elements will capture 180,000 gallons of stormwater each year, helping to improve the health of the nearby Raritan Bay and surrounding waterways. The schoolyard will be open to the community during non-school hours and will serve nearly 900 residents within a 10-minute walk of home.
“Access to outdoor space is critically important to our health and well-being and this new playground will serve not only students with a new classroom and play equipment but gives the entire surrounding community beautiful green space to enjoy,” said Carter Strickland, VP of the Mid-Atlantic and New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “This project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Staten Island Borough President James Oddo and Councilmember Borelli, along with our partners New York Road Runners.”
“As part of our commitment to developing healthier communities, it is essential to help make running and fitness accessible to all,” said Kerin Hempel, CEO, NYRR. “Through our collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, we help create safe and inviting spaces that bring people together to experience the joy of movement and inspire the next generation of runners.”
“This innovative new playground will not only provide extraordinary outdoor space for the neighborhood’s kids but will feature green infrastructure to help mitigate flooding which Staten Islanders have seen too much of in the last few months,” said Borough President James Oddo. “Access to the outdoors is so important for the well-being of the students after they have learned at home for the past year and a half. I want to thank Councilmember Borelli, Trust for Public Land, and the New York Road Runners for getting this done for the South Shore community.”
For nearly 25 years, The Trust for Public Land has guided thousands of students and parents to make the most of their schoolyards, putting 215 community schoolyards where they are needed most. Under our NYC Park Equity Plan, TPL is planning to build 100 more in neighborhoods that have crowded parks; our data shows that communities of color have 33% less park space per capita in NYC.
Nationwide, the Trust for Public Land has transformed more than 300 underused schoolyards into nature-rich parks designed to address inequities in education, health, and climate impacts. Every one of our green schoolyard transformations includes agreements between a school district and other local agencies to allow the community to use the space when school is closed. According to new research from The Trust for Public Land, open access to all public schoolyards across the country during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of more than 19.6 million people, including 5.2 million children, who currently lack access.
This project would not have been possible without the support and funding from New York Road Runners and local elected leaders, including Staten Island’s Borough President James Oddo and Councilmember Joe Borelli (R-South Shore).
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.
About New York Road Runners (NYRR)
NYRR’s mission is to help and inspire people through running. Since 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization. NYRR’s commitment to New York City’s five boroughs features races, virtual races, community events, free youth running initiatives and school programs, the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the New Balance Run Hub, and training resources that provide hundreds of thousands of people each year with the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to Run for Life. NYRR’s premier event is the TCS New York City Marathon. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features a wide population of runners, from the world’s top professional athletes to a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. To learn more, visit www.nyrr.org.
Banner Image: New IS7 schoolyard. Image Credit – Alexa Hoyer