NBA Guard Dion Waiters makes $10K gift to schoolyard

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters today gave $10,000 to help create a new schoolyard at his former elementary school, the E.M. Stanton School in South Philadelphia.

The E.M. Stanton Schoolyard is currently an asphalt lot, but thanks to a city-wide partnership to transform schoolyards into community play spaces, it will be renovated, based on a plan developed by a team of students at the school. The new playground will include an artificial turf field, a running track, a three-point basketball court, an outdoor classroom and performance space, new shade trees and a rain garden. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, once all the funding has been secured.

“I want to inspire the young, talented kids in Philadelphia to take advantage of the opportunities they have,” said Mr. Waiters, who announced the gift at a school assembly. “This schoolyard will be a place where everyone is welcome and will make students enthusiastic about coming to school and finding their passion in life.”

When completed, the Stanton schoolyard will not only serve the 300 students at the school, but it will be open after school and on weekends for the nearly 2,300 children who live within a ten-minute walk.

The renovation is part of a city-wide effort by The Trust for Public Land, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Water Department to create schoolyards that provide new chances for outdoor play, learning and exercise. At the same time, the playgrounds are designed to soak up water during storms.

“We’re thankful to Mr. Waiters for leading the way in helping raise the funds needed to build a playground at his childhood school,” said Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land’s Pennsylvania director. “Our goal is to ensure that every child in the city has access to a high quality park, playground, or other green space within a ten-minute walk from home, and we know this gift will inspire others to help make that dream a reality for the families near the E.M. Stanton School.”

It will cost roughly $735,000 to complete the Stanton project and more than half the money has already been raised. Recently, The Trust for Public Land joined with Stanton Community Partners, a local nonprofit organization, to launch a campaign to help raise the balance needed to complete the project.

“All of us in the Stanton School Community are grateful for Mr. Waiters’ gift and his kind, generous gesture to help make our new playground a positive experience for students and the entire community,” said Stacey Burnley, E.M. Stanton School’s Principal.