New Addition to Quitman Street Community Playground

Quitman Street Community School kindergarteners joined members of the community today to celebrate the completed expansion of the Central Ward school’s playground. The new play space increases the existing playground space at the school by more than a third, the School, The Trust for Public Land, and Newark Public Schools announced.

“We are proud to partner with The Trust for Public Land on this project which is part of our city’s largest parks initiative in more than a century. From the Quitman Street School Playground to Nat Turner Park in the Central Ward, we are creating more green spaces for residents of all ages to enjoy,” said Mayor Cory A. Booker.

In 2000, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) developed a 35,000-square-foot playground at the Quitman Street Community School in Newark’s Central Ward for first- through eighth-grade students. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students play in a separate 13,500-square-foot space and Newark Public Schools asked TPL to return to Quitman School to develop the smaller playground into a space that will promote exercise, learning, and fun for the youngest students and neighborhood children. The new playground includes play equipment for children aged two through five, a track for walking and tricycling, an outdoor classroom, a performance space, raised vegetable garden beds, a rain garden, new trees and plantings, and a ramp for accessibility, among other amenities.

“We are overjoyed with this new addition to the Quitman Street Community School. Finally, our Early Childhood students have a 21st Century playground where learning can truly be extended beyond the interior walls of the school, into a space where they can be creative and critical learners,” said Principal Erskine Glover. “The new playground will help promote our schools vision for creating developmentally appropriate practices that allow for exploration, experimentation, and engineering. I am excited to see how the STEM initiative we began this year will now flourish among our Pre-K & Kindergarten children. We are grateful to The Trust for Public Land for helping create a safe and fun-filled place where all our young children can feel free to just be kids.”

Superintendent Cami Anderson said, “Today’s ribbon-cutting at the Quitman Street playground is a celebration of community collaboration and partnership. The Trust for Public Land has been exemplary in their stewardship of this project. I am thrilled for the students and families who will benefit from this unique space that really encourages and promotes creativity, learning and play.”

In late 2010, TPL began design workshops with students, teachers, and local residents to design the new playground and outdoor learning area. Construction of the new playground and outdoor learning area took place during the summer of 2011. TPL worked closely with the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, and other local residents to support long-term stewardship of both play spaces, ensuring that they will remain safe, well-used resources for the school and community.

“We encouraged the entire community to participate in the design and they really came through,” said Scott Dvorak, TPL’s Parks for People–Newark director. “Quitman Street’s playgrounds offer children of all ages great places to play. We are grateful to all our partners for their tireless commitment to seeing the completion of Quitman School’s new playground.”

Funders who made this project possible include The Bodman Foundation, City of Newark Community Development Block Grant Program, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Victoria Foundation, Inc. The Prudential Foundation provided lead funding for development of the original Quitman playground in 2000.

“Children in Newark deserve great outdoor spaces to play and learn. We have so much confidence in The Trust for Public Land to work with the Newark Public Schools to reimagine playgrounds throughout the district,” said Irene Cooper-Basch, Victoria Foundation Executive Officer and Secretary of the Board. “Quitman Street Community School is a great example of TPL working closely with the students and adults in the school and surrounding community to cooperatively create a space that will be enjoyed by generations of children.”

“The Trust for Public Land and The Prudential Foundation have been working to create safe playspaces for Newark’s children since 1992,” said Shane Harris, vice president of The Prudential Foundation. “Prudential has provided $2.7 million to advance TPL’s Parks for People –Newark initiative and catalyze public and private investments in Newark’s recreational and open space projects.”

The Trust for Public Land is the nation’s leader in creating city parks and raising money for local conservation. TPL conserves land for everyone to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places. TPL and partners have made a $45 million investment in 11 Newark parks and playgrounds to date.