New Playground for East Oakland School (CA)

OAKLAND, CA, 5/23/02—Oakland City Councilmember Moses Mayne and Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Dennis Chaconas today joined the Trust for Public Land, MetLife Foundation, and Principal Angela Archie and the children of Lockwood Elementary School in celebrating the revitalization of the school’s playground. Serving predominately African-American and Latino families, Lockwood Elementary suffers from severe overcrowding and is in one of the most park deficient districts in Oakland. The completion of the playground renovation is a step toward addressing this deficiency, providing more than 900 students ages 5 through 11 with a safe, stimulating place to play.

“The transformation is impressive,” said Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. “From an asphalt jungle to a jungle gym. This schoolyard is a perfect example of creative collaboration between the Trust for Public Land, MetLife Foundation, the school district, and the City of Oakland.”

Lockwood Elementary School’s six-acre, shadeless, asphalt playground has been transformed into a tree-lined haven with play structures, lawn areas, picnic tables, benches, and a log amphitheater. The school’s children, dismissed from school early to attend the dedication event, enjoyed a carnival atmosphere complete with clowns and popcorn.

“I am delighted to be a part of this celebration today,” said Oakland City Councilmember Moses Mayne. “Seeing these children’s excitement for their new schoolyard is a great reminder of why it is so important to provide places to play for Oakland’s children, our most important resource for the future. I am also thankful and impressed with MetLife Foundation’s commitment to our community.”

“A stimulating, creative, and safe place to play is a vital to every child’s educational experience,” said Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Dennis Chaconas. “Thanks to TPL and the MetLife Foundation, 900 East Oakland children will have the educational environment they need and deserve.”

Lockwood Elementary is the first of six TPL projects in Oakland, Los Angeles, and New York to be completed using a generous grant from MetLife Foundation. With grants totaling $1 million to TPL, MetLife Foundation is the lead corporate supporter of TPL’s urban open space work nationwide.

“Safe neighborhood parks and playgrounds are an important part of young people’s development and a critical element of healthy communities,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to help the Trust for Public Land bring play spaces to the children and neighborhoods that need them most and transform residents’ vision for the spaces into reality.”

“The Trust for Public Land has in the past been able to build great community parks in Oakland and this new schoolyard park project is particularly unique,” said Will Rogers, president of the Trust for Public Land. “Turning an asphalt schoolyard into a green, student-designed playground is a dream come true, and could not have been possible without the vision and generous support of MetLife Foundation.”

In California, TPL develops partnerships with city agencies and community organization and cultivates local participation in the creation of sustainable, community-supported parks, playgrounds, and open spaces in predominately low-income communities. The East Oakland playground renovation is the first schoolyard greening project of TPL-California’s San Francisco Bay Area Community Parks and Playgrounds Program.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to MetLife Foundation for its generous funding of this important playground renovation project,” remarked Reed Holderman, Executive Director of the Trust for Public Land-California, “and grateful to the other funders of the new Lockwood Elementary playground, including the San Francisco Foundation, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, and the East Bay Community Foundation.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that works nationwide to conserve land for people. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including the creation or revitalization of hundreds of urban parks. In the Bay Area, TPL-California has revitalized Lincoln Square Playground in Oakland’s Chinatown, Nicol Park in Oakland’s Fruitvale, and helped create the Visitation Valley Greenway in San Francisco.