Even if your memories of grade school have faded, you can probably still picture your playground. Big or small, concrete or grass, it was your world and you knew every nook and cranny—from the quietest corner to whisper a secret to the straightest stretch to run a race. Where adults saw a schoolyard, you looked out on the landmarks of your own private map: the squeakiest swing, the deepest puddles, the fastest route back to class when the bell chimed. Nobody knew your playground better than you.
That’s the idea behind our New York City Playgrounds program, which taps students to help transform their home turf into vibrant parks for the whole neighborhood. This week, we were proud to join the opening celebration for the new green schoolyard at P.S. 213 in Brooklyn.
What a difference a year makes! With a boost from Governer Cuomo's Vital Brooklyn initiative, we renovated the schoolyard at P.S. 213, replacing the barren asphalt with a cool, green, stormwater-absorbing playground, designed by students.
It was an exciting day for the whole neighborhood: once a barren asphalt lot bounded by a sagging chain link fence, the schoolyard is now have a welcoming, healthy green place to play, designed by the students who will use it most. What’s more, the space is open to everyone after hours and on weekends, meaning 20,000 Brooklynites have a new park within a 10-minute walk of home.
And it’s a milestone for us, too: the new schoolyard at P.S. 213 is the 200th playground we’ve created in New York City.
“We are thrilled and excited to have a new playground for our students to enjoy and to share with the school community,” said P.S. 213 Principal Stanley Moise. More than 20,000 people live within a 10-minute walk of this new community green space
In the mid 1990s, New York City had less green space per person than almost anywhere in America. At the same time, most schoolyards were featureless asphalt, uninviting to students and just plain closed to everyone else. Altogether, schoolyards represented a big opportunity to make New York City greener, healthier, and more livable, without competing for pricey vacant lots.
Just over 20 years later, we’ve built or rebuilt 160 acres of green space across the city, drawing on the wisdom of tens of thousands of student experts. Every schoolyard we’ve built helps keep neighborhoods cooler during heatwaves, and absorbs stormwater runoff to prevent harmful water pollution. More than 4 million New Yorkers now live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground we’ve helped create.