Jun 3, 2022
Thought Question: How can your physical environment influence your emotional wellbeing?
An asphalt schoolyard became a staple of US schools in the mid 20th century. It seemed like the perfect setting for kids to work off extra energy.
But those blacktops also became a place for kids to get hurt. They also get very hot. Now, a program is working to replace those lots with green space. The new spaces have softer surfaces and modern playgrounds. They also have flowers, trees, and gazebos to add a bit of nature to the inner city.
Playgrounds at roughly 300 schools across the US have been renovated under the program. It's overseen by the Trust for Public Land (TPL). TPL is a nonprofit that focuses on building green spaces in areas of need. Most asphalt schoolyards still around can be found in urban areas. Students in those areas are mostly low-income and come from a minority background.
The program has its roots in the 1990s. That's when TPL began turning empty lots in New York City into public parks. The new, greener schoolyards double as small parks for kids to play. Residents can use them after school hours.
Educators say kids take notice of the brighter surroundings right away. A lot of research shows that access to green play areas is good for children.
“My favorite thing is the garden, because it’s so colorful with flowers around,” a second grader in a Brooklyn public school told the Guardian.
Indeed, just a few flowers can work a world of wonders.
Photo from Trust for Public Land’s Instagram.