The Need for Parks
Thousands of New York City children do not have access to a close to home park or playground. In fact, 73 percent of the city’s low-income neighborhoods fail to meet the city’s standard of 2.5 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. In these communities, many of the schools have no playground facilities at all. This scarcity of outdoor play opportunities contributes to high rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, and other health problems.
Since 1996, The Trust for Public Land has helped design and build more than 176 playgrounds in New York City public schools. We transform barren asphalt lots into vibrant playgrounds with safe and durable play equipment, athletic facilities, gardens, and opportunities for environmental education. Our partnership with New York City has resulted in more than 150 acres of additional playground space serving 380,000 children and their families.
The cornerstone of our program is a three-month participatory design process. Involving students, parents, school staff, and neighbors helps us create playgrounds that communities care about—and that meet each neighborhood’s unique needs.
When well-designed, playgrounds are a cost-effective approach to improving air quality, cooling the city, and protecting vital waterways. We equip our playgrounds with green infrastructure elements—such as rain gardens, porous paving material, and specially selected plantings—that reduce excess stormwater and sewer overflows that pollute New York City’s rivers and harbor.
In the next three years, we’ll be working with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, the School Construction Authority, the New York City Council, and private funders to build new playgrounds in priority watersheds including Newton Creek, Gowanus Canal, and Jamaica Bay.