New Student-Designed Playground Opens in Bronx (NYC)

Bronx, NY, 5/15/2007 Kindergarteners through sixth grade students at P.S. 130 in the Longwood section of the Bronx will celebrate the opening of a new community playground that they helped design along with teachers, parents, and members of the community.

Today’s dedication will feature students singing a song about the playground and their community and presentations by student playground designers. They will be joined by teachers, parents, members of the community, and representatives from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the New York City Department of Education (DOE), the Citizens Advice Bureau, MetLife Foundation and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

A team of third and fourth grade students, teachers, and parents met regularly for three months last year to design the park. The final design includes garden beds, trees, benches, a water fountain, a play spray, an artificial turf field, a track, a multipurpose court for volleyball and basketball, a jump rope area, an outdoor classroom, a stage, and play equipment.

P.S. 130 is located in Community Board Two of the Bronx, an area, which, in spite of having the lowest median age in the Bronx as well as the highest proportion of children under 18, contains the least amount if park space per capita in the borough.

“Kids need and deserve a safe place to play and we are proud to help make their dreams of a perfect playground a reality,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president of The Trust for Public Land.

“Playgrounds by their very nature symbolize camaraderie, fun and exploration. This park is going to create fantastic memories for the children of this community. It is exciting to see their joy unfold each time they come out to play,” said P.S. 130 Principal Lourdes Velazquez.

The playground is a one million dollar investment in the community through the City Spaces program of The Trust for Public Land made possible by lead private funding from MetLife Foundation and The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and a two-to-one funding match by the DOE. The playground is one of 25 community parks being created citywide through a partnership of TPL, the DOE, the School Construction Authority, community sponsors, and private donors. “Playgrounds are important to the healthy development of young people and the overall health of communities,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president, MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to join TPL, the Department of Education, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, and especially P.S. 130 students, teachers and parents in creating this vital new resource for Longwood.”

The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation provides broad support for education in New York City. It appreciates the importance of complimenting learning with safe, neighborhood recreational space. The Foundation welcomes the opportunity to provide funding for this wonderful playground.

“I am so proud of the students, teachers, and parents who helped design such a great playground,” Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein said. “Staying active and healthy helps kids do better in school and this park will provide much-needed recreational space for everyone in the community.”

The new park will serve the school’s 716 students in kindergarten through sixth grades, as well as children and families in the surrounding community. In March, TPL held a teacher workshop for seven P.S. 130 science teachers to develop lessons plans for environmental education in the schoolyard. TPL and the Citizens Advice Bureau held gardening workshops in April with students and the community.

“We are very excited about the opening of the playground. Outdoor play and environmental awareness activities are critical to the youngsters’ growth and development,” said Ken Small, development director for the Citizens Advice Bureau, which has provided after-school services to P.S. 130 children since 1999 and began a summer camp program at the school in 2006. “This is an excellent example of neighborhood residents and community based organizations working in concert with government, the philanthropic sector, and corporations to create a community space that will serve many generations to come.”

The City Spaces program targets New York City neighborhoods least served by the current park system. For each $1 million playground, funding is raised by TPL from private donors, foundations, and corporations, and is matched two-to one by the DOE. Three more playgrounds will be dedicated in May and June. All 25 sites will be completed by 2010.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) 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, established by MetLife in 1976, supports health, education, civic, and cultural programs throughout the United States. For more information about the Foundation, visit