Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus School

Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus SchoolPhoto credit: The Trust for Public Land

There is limited high quality green space among the bustling shops and restaurants along Rising Sun Avenue in the Lawncrest neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia where students at Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus School and neighbors can connect with nature, and relief from oppressive heat, relax, and play. We’ve changed that. With help from our partners at the School District of Philadelphia, The Trust for Public Land transformed the barren, asphalt school playground into a vibrant green space.

The Trust for Public Land has always believed that the process of creating parks is powerful and inspirational. When people come together to protect the places they love, they demonstrate their hope and commitment to the future and inspire others to take action to improve their surroundings. At Ben Franklin, the design class was comprised of 28 students who represented the entire student body in the 14-week participatory design process. They designed a new, schoolyard to serve the students during the day, that will be open to the public in the evenings, weekends and in the summer.

Like any of our projects, nothing gets built without the input of the community. When we learned that the teachers and principal were concerned that students were underperforming in math we brought on a curriculum advisor to help dive deeper into how the students and teachers could use their schoolyard for enrichment. Together, we developed a variety of math based games to integrate into the schoolyard design that will allow students to see math as they play with the intent to spark interest in math concepts and lead to improved success in the student’s math skills.

Ben Franklin’s transformation includes:
• New play equipment that accommodates many students at a time
• Playful learning games painted games throughout the space
• A multi-purpose turf field
• Picnic tables
• Two basketball half-courts
• An outdoor classroom with benches and boulder seating
• A shaded seating area near the playground
• Removal of more than 6,000 square feet of asphalt
• 14 newly planted trees and 85 shrubs 

Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus School: AfterPhoto credit: The Trust for Public Land

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Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.