Asphalt lot transformed into a student-designed play space at P.S. 33

May 25, 2011

Today P.S. 33 students celebrated the new community playground they helped design in Queens Village. The new playground, created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC initiative, will be available to the school's 1,000 students and to families from the surrounding community.

Previously a mostly vacant lot, the schoolyard at P.S. 33 has now been transformed into a new $1 million community playground, led by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and a design team of students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The playground was funded in part by MetLife Foundation and The Starr Foundation.

"The neighborhood of Queens Village is underserved by parks and recreation space. Through our PlaNYC partnership with the City of New York, TPL provided a safe place to play for the students of P.S. 33 and their community," said Mary Alice Lee, director of TPL's New York City Playgrounds Program.P.S 33, located at 91-37 222nd Street, has more than 1,000 kindergarten-through-fifth grade students. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and staff from the YMCA, to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and the community. The school and community are incredibly diverse. P.S. 33 students come from 52 different countries of origin and families nearby have recently immigrated from Bangladesh, India, and Afghanistan.

"A select group of second and third grade students had a vision and were given the opportunity to share it in their design of this wonderful playground," said Erich Wagner, P.S. 33 Principal. "Their intention was to teach the community the delicate balance nature plays on our planet. We look forward to many sun-filled days when we all can enjoy the fruits of our children's imagination. We thank The Trust for Public Land for all their hard work and collaboration."

The playground features a turf field and running track, basketball practice hoops, outdoor classroom amphitheatre and garden, play equipment, a web climber, benches, game tables, trees, and an educational sign on the history of Queens Village.

The Junior Knicks and soccer and softball clinics will use the playground when school programming does not conflict.

The playground at P.S. 33 was created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC Schoolyards to Playgrounds initiative and is the 26th of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program. In addition, TPL has led participatory design for another 123 playgrounds that the city is building. When completed the playgrounds will serve 380,000 New York City students and residents. Prior to TPL's commitment to PlaNYC, the organization has created 25 playgrounds at New York City public schools through a pilot program.

The new space is one of more than 40 community parks and playgrounds nationwide supported by MetLife Foundation, which has contributed $4.1 million to TPL.

"The generosity of MetLife Foundation and The Starr Foundation enables hundreds of children now to have a place close to home where they can exercise both mind and muscles," said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land.

"Through the Schoolyards to Playgrounds program, which has to date converted 165 underutilized sites into vibrant, community playgrounds, we are working to achieve the PlaNYC goal of ensuring all New Yorkers live within a ten minute walk of a park," said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. "These investments are not only helping to redefine accessible public space in the city, but The Trust for Public Land's innovative approach to participatory design is reshaping how our children engage with their neighborhoods and schools."

The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has created or enhanced more than 250 neighborhood parks in New York City, investing roughly $200 million in land purchases and in the design, construction and stewardship of parks.

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to carry on MetLife's longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. The Foundation is committed to building a secure future for individuals and communities. This commitment is reflected in the Foundation's focus on building livable communities, preparing young people and empowering older adults. For more information about MetLife Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.