Increasing access to the power of parks

Public Schools as Public Land

Children benefit from parks in so many ways – it is our responsibility to ensure that all children have fair and equitable access to a quality park.

Imagine you’re a kid living in an apartment building in an area of town without access to a park. Where can you go outside to play that’s safe? “If the answer is ‘nowhere,’” says Park Pride’s Executive Director, Michael Halicki, “chances are you’ll just stay inside and play video games. We must do better for these kids, and thinking creatively about our public land is the answer.”

According to The Trust for Public Land’s 2019 ParkScore index (an evaluation of park access and quality in the 100 largest U.S. cities), 29 percent of Atlantans do not live within walking distance of a public park or greenspace. Nearly one-third of Atlanta’s kids, adults, and seniors therefore, do not have access to the health benefits of parks close to where they live.

Park Pride believes that everyone deserves to live within walking distance of a great park. That is why we’ve partnered with The Trust for Public Land, the Urban Land Institute, Atlanta’s Department of Parks & Recreation, and Atlanta Public Schools to think creatively about multiple uses for public lands with the Atlanta Community Schoolyards initiative.

Atlanta Community Schoolyards Initiative

Schoolyards like the one pictured could soon be open for public enjoyment outside of school hours.

The Atlanta Community Schoolyards initiative will increase access to public land and park-like spaces by opening schoolyards for public enjoyment outside of school hours. Three schools in the City of Atlanta will be chosen to participate in the pilot program, giving families who live in “park deserts” safe outdoor recreation space close to home.

Each school will receive about $100,000 of capital improvements to update the schoolyards to meet the communities’ needs. With the support of a generous grant from The Trust for Public Land, Park Pride will lead visioning efforts within the neighborhoods to determine what investments can be made to the schoolyards to create vibrant public spaces (new benches, shade structures, water fountains, or community gardens, for example).

The schoolyard visioning meetings will kick-off this fall, and by the end of 2020, three Atlanta communities in need of access to parks will enjoy open schoolyards and the enhanced recreational opportunities that they’ll offer!

 

The schools chosen to be part of the pilot program will be announced later this year at parkpride.org.

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