Photo © Courtesy of the Trust for Public Land
At The Trust for Public Land, we believe parks are a community superpower. When the pandemic shrunk life to a six-foot radius, parks became an essential part of how we coped. But 100 million people in this country—including 28 million kids—don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. Even in cities with many parks, like New York, parks serving primarily people of color and low-income residents are more likely to be smaller, more crowded, and of lower quality. This disparity has serious consequences even in the best of times, and during this public health emergency, it’s more important than ever.
We envision a New York where everyone has access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk from their home. For nearly 50 years, The Trust for Public Land has connected people to nature, creating parks, building trails, and protecting cherished open spaces from Long Island to the Adirondacks, through the Hudson Valley, and along the Great Lakes.
Our focus on people and equity is rooted in a deep commitment to giving the residents of New York City a dynamic place to come together. So why do so many New York City schoolyards look more like parking lots than places to play?
At The Trust for Public Land, we saw these barren asphalt lots—uninviting to students and closed to the community—and we recognized an opportunity to reinvent them as vibrant city parks. We’ve already transformed 210 schoolyards and we have another 200 in the works, adding critical outdoor access in the areas that need better park equity in all five boroughs. That means new custom play areas, athletic courts, and features for neighbors of every age, like shaded seating and exercise tracks.
New York City’s public school system is the largest in the country, serving 1.1 million students who are disproportionately low-income with little access to close-to-home parks. Our green schoolyards become vibrant community hubs, open to the public after school hours and designed to meet the needs of neighbors as well as students. As the climate changes, these spaces also play a vital role by capturing stormwater to reduce flooding and keeping neighborhoods cooler.
The cornerstone of our program is a three-month participatory design process, where students, teachers, parents, and neighbors take the lead in planning their new playground, resulting in play areas that double as outdoor classrooms, pavilions for hosting neighborhood gatherings, and spaces brimming with art and greenery.
Since 1996, we’ve put a green schoolyard within a 10-minute walk of more than four million New Yorkers.
We invite you to support our work. Visit tpl.org/ny to make a donation today.
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.