Washington Heights Playground Opens With Student Celebration (NYC)
Washington Heights, New York, 12/19/2008: A vibrant, new community playground designed by elementary school students was opened today with student performances at P.S. 173 at 306 Fort Washington Avenue in Washington Heights. The playground will be used by the school’s 850 pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students as well as children in the surrounding community.
The space, formerly a cracked asphalt lot, was transformed into a new community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and a design team comprised of P.S. 173’s students, teachers, parents and members of the community. The community sponsor organization is The Children’s Arts and Science Workshops and funding was provided by Credit Suisse and its Investment Banking Division.
The new $1 million community playground includes a track and field, play equipment, basketball hoops, a play house, a bowling alley and a stage. The playground also includes an environmental schoolyard with trees and gardening beds, a weather station, an outdoor classroom, a root viewer, sandbox, and raised planting beds. The Trust for Public Land led a participatory design process with students and community members to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and community members.
Playground benches were designed by the artist Rachel Bacon of the Netherlands. Roger A. Hart, professor in the Environmental Psychology Ph.D. program of the graduate center of the City University of New York and co-director of the Children’s Environments Research Group, collaborated on the design and features of the playground.
“Prior to this transformation, the students and neighborhood children had only a cracked asphalt lot filled with dumpsters to recreate. The students were yearning for a place where they could play during recess and after school. Today, their dream became a reality,” said Andy Stone, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People-New York City program.
“When I became principal of P.S. 173 in 2004, one thing that concerned me was the absence of a playground,” said principal Dawn Boursiquot. Now the students have a beautiful and safe place to play, exercise, think, and relax; a place very special to them because they helped to create it. This playground represents the realization of a dream. On behalf of our school and the community of Washington Heights, thank you to all who made it possible.”
The playground is one of five that has been sponsored by Credit Suisse, which contributed funds from the Credit Suisse Americas Foundation, but also rallied staff in support of the effort, ultimately resulting in nearly 4,000 employees contributing. The end result was a gift from Credit Suisse of $1.66 million to The Trust for Public Land to fund the five playgrounds, located in Washington Heights, Harlem, Hunt’s Point, Bensonhurst, and Crown Heights.
“We are proud both as individuals and as employees of Credit Suisse to be part of this extraordinarily successful partnership,” said Marc Granetz, Co-Head of the Global Investment Banking Department for Credit Suisse. “Our staff feels personally invested because they gave from their own resources and time to help make this happen.”
In 2004, Credit Suisse added a charity element to be incorporated into company holiday parties. During its first campaign for TPL in 2006, three divisions raised enough to build one New York City playground through employee donations and a $1.5 to $1 match from the Foundation. In 2008, TPL was the sole recipient of Credit Suisse’s holiday fundraising, which saw all New York City Credit Suisse business units participate in the partnership. This new approach resulted in a 63 percent increase in giving. Credit Suisse is the only financial services firm that structures its holiday celebrations to ensure that local communities also benefit.
“The impact of the generosity of Credit Suisse and its employees is that thousands of children now have a close to home place where they can exercise both mind and muscles,” said Stone.
The Trust for Public Land has created 32 community playgrounds throughout New York City. In partnership with the city’s PlaNYC initiative, TPL is working to transform 185 schoolyards with 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. For more information, visit www.tpl.org/nyc.
As one of the world’s leading banks, Credit Suisse provides its clients with private banking, investment banking and asset management services worldwide. Credit Suisse offers advisory services, comprehensive solutions and innovative products to companies, institutional clients and high-net-worth private clients globally, as well as retail clients in Switzerland. Credit Suisse is active in over 50 countries and employs approximately 49,000 people. Credit Suisse is comprised of a number of legal entities around the world and is headquartered in Zurich. The registered shares (CSGN) of Credit Suisse’s parent company, Credit Suisse Group AG, are listed in Switzerland and, in the form of American Depositary Shares (CS), in New York. Further information about Credit Suisse can be found at www.credit-suisse.com.