Story contributed by Birgitta Johnson, L.O. Kimberly Elementary, Media Specialist and communications ambassador
The Atlanta Community Schoolyard Program kicked off last month at Dobbs and Kimberly elementary schools, as fourth- and fifth-grade students met representatives from the Trust for Public Land and Park Pride who will turn their playground dreams into community park realities.
On Oct. 3, the two organizations returned to L.O. Kimberly Elementary School to collaborate with fourth and fifth graders bursting with design ideas.
“The Trust for Public Land, Park Pride, and Urban Land Institute feel strongly about designing to the needs and requests of the Kimberly Elementary community,” said Jay Wozniak, Trust for Public Land urban parks director. “Over the past couple of weeks, students and faculty completed surveys with pertinent questions about opportunities and challenges to improving the Kimberly schoolyard. The data was collected and reviewed to customize the design workshops held with the school’s fourth and fifth graders. The workshops are venues for students to collaborate with their friends to discuss what should be implemented on the Kimberly campus and be open as a public park to residents of the surrounding neighborhood. The ideas created by the students will inform TPL and Park Pride design team as what the final design should be.”
The schoolyard campus improvements slated to operate as a public park for the surrounding neighborhood is proposed to be constructed on the large field near the school gym.
Students were given a budget to spend on different park materials to create their vision of the park. Their design ideas ranged from benches and drinking fountains to playgrounds, a multipurpose sports field and basketball court.
“This project is extremely beneficial to not only the students of Kimberly but the entire Therrell Cluster,” said Principal Joseph Salley. “We are excited to have our students take ownership by assisting in the creation of the design of the park. We look forward to the continued collaboration to create a great greenspace for our entire community to enjoy.”
On Oct. 16, park representatives will meet with Kimberly’s GO Team to provide updates on the project.
On Oct. 17, Dobbs Elementary School students will have their design session to share their ideas for a new public park for their South Atlanta Cluster community.
Roughly 30 percent of Atlanta residents live in park desserts, or not within a 10-minute walk to a park, according to The Trust for Public Land. So, the city of Atlanta, Park Pride, Urban Land Institute, The Trust for Public Land, and Atlanta Public Schools partnered to make a change.
Over the next three years, 10 APS schools will help create community schoolyards, making those schools open to the public during non-school hours. Dobbs and Kimberly elementary schools are the first two elementary schools on the list.