Brooklyn Playground Opening Celebrated (NYC)
Brooklyn, New York, 5/17/05: Elementary school students and local residents celebrated the opening of a new playground and park at P.S. 328, East New York, Brooklyn today. The park was created through a partnership of the nonprofit organizations the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Groundwork, Inc. Students and staff from P.S. 328 who participated in the park design process were on hand for the celebration. The new park is a half-million dollar investment paid for by TPL with funding donated by the New York Life Foundation, the Charles Hayden Foundation, and other foundations and individuals.
Two dilapidated basketball hoops-the only recreational equipment formerly on the one-half-block asphalt lot-were replaced and the park now boasts an artificial turf field, three-lane track, a kickball and softball area, play spray, brick maze, play equipment, game tables, benches, and trees.
From January to May 2004, students from P.S. 328 and Groundwork met regularly with a team of professional designers and architects to design the playground. They surveyed members of the community and visited other sites to generate ideas and develop a plan. The playground will be used by students during school hours and will be open to the neighborhood when school is closed.
“There is a strong need for open space resources in the Brooklyn neighborhood,” said Mary Alice Lee, manager of TPL’s City Spaces program.
“Groundwork is so proud to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of East New York. We are proud of the students at Groundwork and P.S. 328 who put in the hard work to design this wonderful space. Ultimately, that is why East New York will continue to grow stronger as a community-the incredible resourceful, intelligence, and creativity of its children,” said Richard Buery, founder and executive director of Groundwork, Inc.
East New York is a geographically isolated section of Brooklyn, inhabited predominantly by African-Americans, Latinos, and Caribbean immigrants. It is one of the poorest communities in New York City, with over 60 percent of the children living below poverty levels. With 36 percent of its population age 19 and younger, East New York has one of the city’s highest concentrations of youth.
“It’s impossible to understate what a big achievement this playground is for this community. There are children growing up here who had never even seen swings before this,” said Kim Schuler, a parent, life long resident of East New York, and a member of the committee of community residents that meet regularly to discuss issues pertaining to the new playground.
Through their City Spaces program, the Trust for Public Land develops new community playgrounds in city neighborhoods underserved by the traditional parks system. City Spaces is a public-private partnership, involving TPL, public agencies, and local organizations. Through City Spaces, 18 new community parks have been created in Newark and New York City. Last fall, TPL and the City of New York Department of Education announced a partnership to build an additional 25 playgrounds on school properties by 2010. The $25 million initiative will focus on high-density, low-income neighborhoods.
“The New York Life Foundation is pleased to fund an initiative that benefits so many people,” said Sy Sternberg, chairman of the New York Life Foundation and chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance. “This project enhances the quality of life for so many children and also instills a sense of pride throughout the neighborhood. The playground at P.S. 328 will be enjoyed by many generations to come and New York Life is proud to have helped make it possible.”
Groundwork, whose office is just two blocks from P.S. 328 and the new playground site, is a nonprofit organization that runs literacy-based summer camps and after-school programs in three East New York public schools, including P.S. 328. Founded by Richard Buery and Andrea Schorr in 2002, Groundwork’s mission is to help neighbors build powerful communities. The group identifies small neighborhoods, typically public housing developments and the blocks that surround them, and works with community members and institutions to provide high-quality educational programs and support services to the children and families who live there.
Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well-being. TPL connects people to land through parks, recreation areas, working lands, and natural open spaces ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL’s Parks for People initiative works in cities across America to ensure that everyone-in particular every child-enjoys access to a park, playground, or open space. For more information, visit www.tpl.org.
The New York Life Foundation (www.newyorklifefoundation.org) is the major vehicle through which New York Life Insurance Company channels contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. Through its Nurturing the Children initiative, the Foundation supports organizations, programs and services that target young people, particularly in the areas of mentoring, safe places to learn and grow, and educational enhancement opportunities. Through Volunteers for LIFE, its national community involvement initiative, New York Life also encourages volunteer participation by its employees, agents and retirees.
The Charles Hayden Foundation seeks to promote the mental, moral, and physical development of children and youth ages three to 18 in the New York and Boston metropolitan areas. The foundation focus is on those institutions and programs serving youth most at risk of not reaching their full potential, especially youth in low-income communities.