In the auditorium of the Alexander Adaire School, at 1300 E. Palmer St., the Trust for Public Land’s Pennsylvania state director on Tuesday morning posed a question to students.
“Do we have any fifth-graders, third-graders, second-graders?” inquired Anthony Cucchi, who drew scores of raised hands. “Everything you need to know about building a playground or schoolyard, we learned in the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade.”
“One is teamwork,” he said.
Indeed, the Trust for Public Land teamed with the School District of Philadelphia and the Water Department at the K-8 school in the Fishtown area for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new playground, expected to be completed by the summer.
Adaire is one of 12 projects throughout the city that will receive green community areas in neighborhoods that lack high-quality indoor places to play and learn. Seven projects will be done at schools and five at park and recreation centers.
The new space will include a rain garden with a nature trail for exploration of learning, play areas, benches, a seat wall and new infrastructure that will capture storm water on rainy days.
“It’s not just a recreational space, but it’s a green space and more importantly a learning space,” said William R. Hite, superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia. “These spaces both here and there and in other places become critically important to creating classrooms and more classroom environments that go beyond the traditional walls off the schoolhouse.”
Over the next five years, the partnership will yield as many as 30 green schoolyards and recreation centers. The money began with a grant from the William Penn Foundation and funding through the Trust for Public Land, the city, state and district sources.
“During our first year in office, we made a commitment that every neighborhood in this city would have access to a high-quality community space,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “This community will do just that for this school and neighborhood.”