We are excited to partner with The Trust for Public Land and pursue a common goal of making New York better today, in order to promise a better tomorrow. Through this partnership, we aim to transform New York City public school playgrounds into state-of-the-art, green, community playgrounds.
The Trust for Public Land—which receives public funding from the Departments of Education and Environmental Protection, the School Construction Authority, the City Council, and the Manhattan Borough President, the Queens Borough President, and the Bronx Borough President—has developed 189 playgrounds in New York City. In addition to serving students during the school day, all playgrounds in NYC are open to the public on weekends and after school hours, providing opportunities for both children and adults to be physically active.
To kick off the new partnership, New York Road Runners has contributed an initial $1 million to help fund the design and construction of playgrounds at three school campuses: CS 154 in Harlem, PS 120 in Flushing, Queens, and the Piagentini and Jones Educational Complex, which houses three schools on a shared campus in the Throgs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx (PS 392, IS 467, and IS 371).
The new playgrounds were designed through a participatory design process led by students themselves. At each participating school, students survey their peers as part of a class project to learn the most popular playground features. Students then work with landscape architects to integrate the student wish list into the final design. The participatory design process teaches many valuable skills, including environmental science, budgeting, and negotiation.
These three initial projects will be completed by the end of 2017. Ultimately, we plan to fund playground development in all five boroughs over the next few years. The new playgrounds will replace dilapidated, arid blacktop that currently provides students’ only opportunity to play outdoors on school grounds.
Additionally, the three playgrounds include green infrastructure design elements, a hallmark of The Trust for Public Land’s playground work. These features, such as specialized plantings and porous pavement, help reduce storm runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, allowing untreated water to end up in rivers and bays. Each playground absorbs hundreds of thousands of gallons of water annually and includes 20-30 new trees that bring shade and better air quality to their neighborhoods.