New Science-Themed Playground for Crown Heights (NYC)

CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN, N.Y. 9/16/2009: Today students celebrated the new community playground they helped design at P.S./M.S. 394 at 188 Rochester Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The new playground will be available to the school’s students and to families from the surrounding community.

A mostly vacant lot at P.S./M.S. 394K has been transformed into a new $1 million community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), community sponsor Friends of Crown Heights, and a design team comprised of students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The playground, funded in part by MetLife Foundation and the Starr Foundation, includes an artificial turf field, running track, multi-purpose courts, play equipment for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds, a gazebo, a garden/outdoor classroom, water fountain, trees, benches, and game tables.

The playground also features science play elements that were selected by a special science focus group. The science elements include a Weatherbug station, color illustrations of the rain cycle and a physics optical illusion, environmental educational signs, and a garden area planted by students last week.

P.S./M.S. 394K is a pre-K-through-eighth-grade school with 812 students. 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.

“The students were yearning for a place to play-and learn-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.

Prior to the new development, the school’s playground was an enormous asphalt lot with some painted lines for games. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and Friends of Crown Heights staff to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and the community.

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

P.S./M.S. 394K Principal Claudette Murray said, “We at P.S 394 are ecstatic! The playground is worth its ‘wait’ in gold. It’s a dream come true!”

The playground at P.S./M.S. 394K is one of 36 community parks and playgrounds nationwide supported by MetLife Foundation, which has contributed $3.1 million to TPL.

“MetLife Foundation shares TPL’s commitment to building healthy communities, with safe, accessible places for children to play and learn.” said Dennis White, president and CEO, MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to join the City, TPL, P.S./M.S. 394, and the Crown Heights community in creating this important new neighborhood resource.”

“The generosity of MetLife Foundation, as well as the Starr Foundation and its 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 38 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.

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife to carry on its longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Grants support education, health, civic, and cultural programs. In youth development, MetLife Foundation funds initiatives that promote mentoring and provide safe places and constructive activities for young people, particularly during out-of-school time. For more information about the Foundation, visit