NYC School Community Playgrounds are Going Green

The Trust for Public Land and New York Road Runners has announced a new partnership to fund the transformation of New York City public school playgrounds into state-of-the-art, green, community playgrounds.

To launch the partnership, New York Road Runners contributed an initial $1 million to help fund the design and construction of playgrounds at three school campuses: CS 154 in Harlem, Manhattan; PS 120 in Flushing, Queens; and the Piagentini and Jones Educational Complex, which houses three schools on a shared campus in Throgs Neck, Bronx (PS 392, IS 467, and IS 371).

These three projects will be completed by the end of 2017, with NYRR funding playground development in all five boroughs over the next few years. More than 215,000 students are served nationally through NYRR’s free youth running programs and events, including 115,000 in New York City’s five boroughs.

“New York Road Runners is thrilled to launch this partnership with The Trust for Public Land and we look forward to building many new playgrounds that students in our free NYRR Mighty Milers program, as well as children from the surrounding community, can enjoy for years to come,” said Michael Capiraso, NYRR President and CEO in a press release. “Every child deserves the opportunity to play and run in safe, fun, and highly functional community environments.” 

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The playgrounds will include green infrastructure elements—a staple of The Trust for Public Land’s work. Some of the features include specialized plantings and shade trees as well as porous pavement and permeable pavers. There will also be a new synthetic turf field that promotes infiltration. These elements will help reduce storm runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems.

The new playgrounds were created through a design process led by students. At each participating school students surveyed their peers to learn the most popular playground features, and then worked with landscape architects to integrate them into the final design. Through this process, students learned about environmental science, budgeting, and negotiation. 

Four-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi was on hand for the announcement at CS 154 in Harlem, Manhattan, one of three sites where construction on new playgrounds will soon begin. According to the press release:

“Perhaps a future marathon champion will be touched by this donation from New York Road Runners, but that is not the goal. What’s most important is that all children have the opportunity to develop an active and healthy lifestyle. This will surely benefit the children, families, and our communities,” said Keflezighi, winner of the 2009 New York City Marathon.

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The playground at CS 154 will have a “Night and Day” theme that incorporates many student-developed design elements, including an image of families dancing the night away near the Apollo Theater. 

The Trust for Public Land has helped develop 189 playgrounds in New York City, and nearly 3.3 million New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of one of its playgrounds. In addition to serving students during the school year, all playgrounds in New York City are open to the public on weekends and after school hours, giving all NYC residents a chance to get active and healthy.

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