Atlanta The Atlanta area The Trust for Public Land, Urban Land Institute Atlanta, Park Pride, and Atlanta Public Schools are thrilled to unveil that they have selected the Atlanta Community Schoolyards program pilot locations: John Wesley Dobbs Elementary and L.O. Kimberly Elementary.
Reimagining the community schoolyard is a tested strategy that has helped cities achieve the objective of having each resident reside within a 10-minute walk of open space. In the United States, The Trust for Public Land has been working in many cities to transform schoolyards into open spaces accessible to the public during the hours of non-school.
The accessibility to the parks of Atlanta is growing. However, 29 percent of Atlantans aren’t within a 10-minute walk of the nearest park. The Atlanta Community Schoolyards program aims to increase that percentage by reimagining schools for open use outside school hours. Public school districts include among the biggest landowners in nearly every town and city in the United States. There are around 100,000 public schools across the U.S., but only 10% of the schools currently provide the general public with official access to schoolyards.
Park Pride and The Trust for Public Land manage the planning and engagement of the community in the transformation of the schoolyards into centers of community. The project received a community contribution of $40,00 from the Trust for Public Land’s 10- Minute Walk Campaign was announced earlier this year and helped fund the efforts. ULI Atlanta is studying the roadways, crosswalks, and sidewalks around the pilot schools to provide suggestions for improving access so that the 10 minutes walk is safe. Fair and equitable access to walkable or connected areas within a half-mile distance of the schools is crucial in this plan.
This Atlanta Community Schoolyards program also has philanthropic and business community partners’ backing. Delta Air Lines has committed to giving $500,000 over the next three years. They will be active in the design and implementation. The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has contributed generously one million dollars over three years to help support the Trust for Public Land’s Community Schools initiative in Atlanta. This project is only possible with the help and cooperation of The Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation.
“The Trust for Public Land’s history of turning schoolyards into parks communities across the nation and the local expertise of our partners will ensure that Atlanta’s plan will provide safe and welcoming schools for all students,” said George Dusenbury, Georgia state director for The Trust for Public Land. “We are delighted to assist thousands of families who live within a 10-minute walk from these schools to gain access to safer outdoor recreation spaces.”
“We are delighted to be part of this collaboration,” said Atlanta Public Schools Director Dr. Meria Carstarphen. “Our schools form a significant component of the neighborhoods in Atlanta which is why the playgrounds and yards of the schools should be available at Dobbs Elementary School as well as L.O. Kimberly Elementary School, as well as eight other schools that will take part in the pilot program and will be accessible to the community during school hours.”
“At Delta Air Lines, giving back to the communities in which we work, live, and service is a part of our values, and we also believe that playing is an integral aspect of learning. We are therefore pleased to support the Trust for Public Liv’s Schoolyards program and also support the school that is close and close to our hearts thanks to our collaboration in Atlanta Public Schools’ Dobbs Elementary School,” said Tad Hutcheson the Managing Director of Community Engagement at Delta. “Connections made during play in the schoolyard, whether at school or in a local park after school, provide chances for children from all age groups to acquire important social skills that are hard to achieve in other environments.”
“I’ve ever believed in access to parks, and green space provides a sense of connection to nature and other people, us as well as our community that is essential for our overall health,” stated Arthur M. Blank, chairman of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “We are pleased to help the Trust for Public Land in their efforts to improve an asset that is not being utilized to improve the chances for people in Atlanta.”
“Great parks and parks-like spaces satisfy the needs of the communities in which they’re part,” explained Andrew White, a registered landscape architect and Park Pride’s director of Park Visioning. “We are excited to collaborate with the children, the school’s leaders, and residents of the neighborhood to learn their ideas for improvements to the schoolyard, which will unite people to be enjoyed by all.”
“ULI members offer their expertise to ensure everyone can access the best mobility options, such as sidewalks and secure street crossings. The walk should not only be safe and accessible but also having a park or some other location that you can walk to is essential,” explained Janet Bozeman, a local ULI participant, and real estate lawyer. “Walkability can benefit the community in various ways, like providing safe access for children who walk to school, people who commute by walking to public transit and providing opportunities for social and recreational activities and encouraging pride in your community. We look forward to seeing these communities’ parks improve under this program.”
GIS information was utilized to determine schools within the city’s poor in terms of parks. APS Director Dr. Meria Carstarphen asked those schools to join and selected two as pilot sites of the Atlanta Community Schoolyards program. In the coming six months, students and residents from surrounding communities will create and implement changes to create a welcoming, accessible and safe areas for school-day play and leisure after-hours. Construction will begin this summer. Ten schools will be part of the pilot program for three years.
About the Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land Trust for Public Land creates parks and preserves the land for the people, ensuring sustainable, healthy communities for the generations to follow. Many people live within a 10-minute walking distance of a Trust for Public Land park or natural zone, and millions of people visit these places each year.
More Information About Urban Land Institute Atlanta
ULI Atlanta is a District Council of the Urban Land Institute. With over 1,400 members from Georgia, Alabama, and eastern Tennessee, ULI Atlanta is one of the largest and most active ULI District Councils worldwide. The goal of the Urban Land Institute is to offer leadership in the sustainable use of land and in establishing and maintaining vibrant communities.
About Park Pride
In 2022 Park Pride celebrates 30 years of engaging communities to unleash the potential of parks! With over 150 regional Friends of the Park groups, Park Pride provides leadership, support, and funds to help communities achieve their goals for parks in their neighborhood that promote healthy individuals, strong communities, bustling business districts, a thriving economy, and a healthy and sustainable environment. Park Pride is active in green space advocacy and educating citizens and leaders about the advantages of parks.
Information About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in Georgia, with 52,000 students in 87 schools. The district is divided into nine K-12 clusters, which include 58 traditional schools, 18 charter schools with six partner schools, and two single-gender academies across the city with three different programs.