Washington Heights Playground Opening (NYC)

June 25, 2003…Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan, NY…Students and community residents celebrated today the dedication of I.S. 90 Mirabal Sisters School Playground, a new playground in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The celebration included performances by the C.A.S. I.S.90 cheerleading squad, presentations by the student playground design team, a ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks by dignitaries from the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Children’s Aid Society, MetLife Foundation and the Charles Hayden Foundation.

The site, formerly an empty lot, has been transformed into a community play space that includes climbing and exercise equipment, swings, a small outdoor classroom, a small environmental area with shade trees, benches for comfortable seating, and a barbecue area.

The playground was created through the City Spaces program of the nonprofit Trust for Public Land. The program is a groundbreaking public-private partnership dedicated to providing permanent, community-managed recreation spaces.

The design for the playground came from junior “architects”—sixth- to eighth-grade students from I.S. 90—who performed tasks that ranged from surveying the site and interviewing community stakeholders to working with professional architects.

They were joined by the project’s partners from the I.S. 90 Mirabal Sisters School, a Children’s Aid Society community school; The Children’s Aid Society; the Trust for Public Land; the Charles Hayden Foundation; and MetLife Foundation.

“These children have invested in their school and their community with this project,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president and mid-Atlantic regional director for the Trust for Public Land. “Because of their commitment and partnership of nonprofits, agencies, donors and individuals, this landscape has been transformed from rubble and dirt to a vibrant park.”

“The children and partners who have created this new playground have given this community a visual oasis and physical refuge,” said Philip Coltoff, chief executive officer of The Children’s Aid Society. “We’re delighted that the children of I.S. 90 had the experience of creating this space and we are very grateful to the Trust for Public Land for making it happen.”

“The building of this playground demonstrates what may result from true collaboration between public and private organizations for the betterment of the children of the school and the community,” said Janet Heller, principal of I.S. 90.

Creation of the I.S. 90 playground was made possible by the support and collaboration of partners including Community School District 6, The Children’s Aid Society, the Trust for Public Land and private donors. The funds to build the $175,000 park were raised by the Trust for Public Land with lead support by the Charles Hayden Foundation and MetLife Foundation as corporate sponsor. Additional support for the creation of parks through this phase of the City Spaces program has been provided by The Rhodebeck Charitable Trust, Achelis Foundation, Commonwealth Fund, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro. “Children need and deserve safe, accessible places to play. We are pleased that this new playground offers such a fun space for the children and this community that have worked so hard to create it,” said Sonni Holland of the Charles Hayden Foundation.

?”Safe neighborhood 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 students of I.S. 90 transform their vision for the space into reality and to create this important new resource for their community.”


MetLife Foundation has contributed $1 million to support TPL’s open space work in cities nationwide, such as New York City, Atlanta, Baltimore and Oakland, CA. The Foundation, established by MetLife in 1976, supports health, education, civic and cultural programs throughout the United States. For more information about the Foundation, visit the Web site at www.metlife.org.

The Charles Hayden Foundation seeks to promote the mental, moral and physical development of children and youth ages three to eighteen in the New York and Boston metropolitan areas. Our focus is on those institutions and programs serving youth most at risk of not reaching their full potential, especially youth in low-income communities.

The Children’s Aid Society, founded in 1853, serves over 120,000 New York City children and their families each year, with 38 sites and over 100 innovative, cost-effective programs. CAS partners with the Department of Education in 10 New York City public schools, called community schools, in which the Society provides wrap-around social, medical, academic and recreational services.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in our communities and to protect our natural and historic resources for future generations. Through the City Spaces program, 13 new community parks have been created in Newark and New York City and another 10 are in the works.