Schoolyards to Playgrounds
PlaNYC’s Open Space goal is to ensure that all New Yorkers live within a 10–minute walk of a park or playground. To meet this goal, we have opened hundreds of schoolyards to the public through the Schoolyards to Playgrounds program. The Parks Department, the Department of Education (DOE), and the non–profit Trust for Public Land (TPL) are working together to improve many of the schoolyards through capital improvements, including play equipment, painted sports surfaces, trees and benches.
Schoolyards to Playgrounds sites are open weekdays after school until dusk and from 8:00 a.m. to dusk on weekends and holidays.
Please contact Alex Doulis at the Department of School Facilities for more information about a particular schoolyard.
The New York City Parks Department, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, asked students to think about what elements they want in their new playgrounds. During this process, the students have to consider several elements including the best interests of the student body, the school’s faculty and staff, the neighborhood as a whole, and the general costs of the redesign.
The comments below represent just a sampling of design day experiences from the over 130 schools that participated in the program. In all, hundreds of elementary and middle school students between the ages of 7 and 15 learned what it’s like to be a landscape architect for a day.
Click on an image to see a comment from a student or teacher.
I felt very happy and excited to design my own playground because I love designing things and now my design will help design a playground. I contributed the snake bench to the new playground. I learned that first you need to design the playground before you build it. You need to like what you design [and] create a rough draft before you put together a permanent design. I think that my community will like having their own playground to play in. I think they will like it because now they will have a place to play in after a long school week. I think they will enjoy playing in the playground.
— Nibras Islam, Grade 3
P.S. 69Q students and teachers were very excited about being involved in the design of our schoolyard renovation. It was wonderful to see the creativity that the children brought to Design Day. Their ideas were on target with our needs, and we were all made to feel that our ideas were useful and valid. Design Day allowed students, teachers, and community the chance to add our personal hopes, dreams, and creativity to a project that is literally ‘in our backyard.’ Design Day gave us ownership. As a teacher, I look forward to the expansion of our school facility to include learning spaces outdoors. With the addition of the stage, planting area, and the track I can envision several classes utilizing the yard at the same time.
— Ms. Nancy Hill, a teacher at P.S. 69Q
I felt so happy that I was going to design the playground because I got to choose what will be in it. I contributed the mini theater idea. The new playground will bring smiles on the other children’s faces because this playground is not an ordinary playground. I learned that the design team has worked with many schools making their playgrounds from plain to amazing.
— Nafisa Shahjada, Grade 5
I wanted to add a sign to the playground that said ‘Welcome to P.S. 69Q Community and Neighborhood Park’ to make everyone feel welcome. I think that it will bring more kids to the park so they can make new friends and have a great time. I learned that you can always be creative and use your own special imagination. This was a great experience for me. I LOVE PlaNYC!
— Mariela Parra, Grade 4
Thank You Notes
In early March 2010, the PlaNYC initiative gave the kids of P.S. 176K a brand new playground. Here is just some of the feedback from the kids.
Click on an image to view the full thank you note.
Before & After
Close to 200 of the schoolyards receive improvements like sports courts, play equipment, trees, and benches before they open to the public. Click on one of the photos below to see the transformation of a few of the schoolyards in the program.