Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

December 2021

Schoolyard Playground Program Earns ASLA Olmsted Medal

Instituted in 1990 to recognize individuals, organizations, agencies and programs outside the profession of landscape architecture for environmental leadership, vision and stewardship, the American Society of Landscape Architects' Olmsted Medal was recently awarded to the Trust for Public Land's New York City Playgrounds Program. Program Director Mary Alice Lee received the Olmsted Medal on behalf of The Trust for Public Land, the second time that the organization's work has been recognized with the prestigious award.

"This medal is a testament to the strength and impact of our longest standing Community Schoolyard program and underscores our commitment to bring new, vibrant green space across New York City and across the country," Lee said. "New York City has been the model for our playgrounds work for nearly 25 years, and we're proud of the collaboration and community engagement we've been able to implement in our design process, ensuring residents have a voice in creating these spaces."

In the past two years, The Trust for Public Land has opened 10 new schoolyard spaces across the city, providing critical new park space to 239,240 residents, just when people needed help and relief from COVID through safe social spaces in their neighborhoods the most. These new sites brought the number of community schoolyards built by The Trust for Public Land in NYC up to 218, and over 25 years the organization has guided thousands of students and parents to make the most of their schoolyards.

The playgrounds not only provide access to outdoor recreation, they also include green infrastructure design elements like permeable pavers to capture millions of gallons of stormwater each year, helping to reduce neighborhood flooding and improve the health of nearby waterways. New research from The Trust for Public Land shows that open access to all public schoolyards across the country during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of more than 19.6 million people, including 5.2 million children, who currently lack access.

Nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has transformed more than 300 underused schoolyards into nature-rich parks designed to address inequities in education, health and climate impacts. Each community schoolyard transformation includes agreements between a school district and other local agencies to allow the community to use the space when school is closed.

As part of its NYC Park Equity Plan, The Trust for Public Land is planning to build 100 more in neighborhoods that have crowded parks. TPL data shows communities of color have 33.5% less park space per person within a 10-minute walk compared to white communities. These neighborhoods not only need more parks, but also should have access to smartly designed open spaces through transformation of schoolyards, vacant lots and other public lands.

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ULI Report: Pandemic Led to Innovation in the Public Realm - April 2021

Nation's Pediatricians Provide New Guidance on Summer Camp Safety - April 2021

Grants Invest in Community Trail Projects - March 2021

Research Supports Safe Camp Operations During Pandemic - March 2021

USA Swimming Distributes Community Impact Grants - March 2021

Research Uncovers What Consumers Need to Return to Gyms - March 2021

Study Details Hard-Hitting Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Attractions Industry - March 2021

Outdoor Participation Up Significantly, Says Topline Data From Outdoor Foundation - February 2021

USA Swimming Awards Funds to Local Swimming Committees - February 2021

NGWSD Celebrates Girls & Women in Sports - February 2021

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USA Swimming, U.S. Masters Swimming Partner to Support Learn-to-Swim - January 2021

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ACA Grant Program Aims to Promote Access and Inclusion at Camp - December 2020