New Playground for Ditmas Public School and Community (NYC)

DITMAS, BROOKLYN, N.Y., 9/26/2009: Today students celebrated the new community playground they helped design at I.S. 62-The Ditmas School at 700 Cortelyou Road in Ditmas, Brooklyn. The new playground will be available to the school’s students and to families from the surrounding community.

The mostly vacant schoolyard at I.S. 62-The Ditmas School has been transformed into a new $1 million community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), community sponsors CHAMPS, Big Apple Games, Flatbush Development Corporation, and a design team comprised of students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The playground includes basketball and multi-purpose courts, trees, benches, artificial turf field, bleachers, gazebo, game tables, garden area, performance stage, bike rack, and play equipment. Credit Suisse provided private support needed to create the playground.

I.S. 62-The Ditmas School is a diverse sixth through eighth grade school with more than 1,100 students speaking 40 different languages. Asthma, obesity, and diabetes rates are all higher in the school’s proximity than they are in Brooklyn or New York City on a whole. The playground will provide children and adults with an engaging new place to exercise, an important element to healthy living.

A year ago the schoolyard at I.S. 62-The Ditmas School was pockmarked and cracked, with only one bent basketball hoop and a crumbling, free-standing wall for handball. The school had to ban football games at recess because children were getting hurt. But it was in constant use; for example, Jamaican and Pakistani immigrants used the yard to play cricket. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and staff from the community sponsors to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and the community.

“The students were yearning for a place to play during recess and the community wanted a park. Today, their dreams became a reality,” said Andy Stone, director of TPL’s Parks for People-New York City program.

This playground was created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative and is the fourteenth of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program.

“I can’t believe what TPL did for us. They came into our building and created a beautiful school and community playground,” said Ditmas/IS 62 principal Barry Kervorkian. “To me, it’s the greatest thing in the world.”

“This playground is a great opportunity for families in the community to have a safe and fun place to gather and play,” said Robin Redmond, executive director, Flatbush Development Corporation.

The playground at I.S. 62-The Ditmas School is one of six that have been sponsored by Credit Suisse. Prior to this playground, more than $2 million in funding had been contributed from the Credit Suisse Americas Foundation and nearly 4,000 Credit Suisse staff. Inspired by the success of previous contributions, the team in Asset Management at Credit Suisse advocated for further funding for the playground at I.S. 62-The Ditmas School.

“There are few investments as powerful as contributing directly to improve the health and well-being of our children,” said George Hornig, Co-COO and Head of Americas of Asset Management at Credit Suisse. “At Credit Suisse we believe The Trust for Public Land’s playgrounds are providing New York City’s students with great places to grow, learn, and play.”

“The generosity of Credit Suisse Foundation and the Bank’s employees enables thousands of children now to have a place close to home where they can exercise both mind and muscles,” said Stone.

The Trust for Public Land has created 39 community playgrounds throughout New York City. In partnership with the city’s PlaNYC initiative, TPL is working to transform 151 schoolyards into playgrounds by 2010. 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.