Towards Healthier Urban Communities
Three cities try to transform public school playgrounds into green spaces. Here's what we found.
Evaluation of three early stage pilot efforts to implement Children and Nature Network’s Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities initiative provides a model for cities who may be contemplating a similar project. Important themes identified by the evaluation include the value of partnering with local initiatives, bringing young people into the development process, and reaching consensus on goals. Overall, participants in all three cities reported good progress on their efforts and that their communities are invested in the project. Members of these communities could articulate the benefits of natural spaces to child learning and creativity, development, and well-being. They also saw the potential of these spaces for fostering greater social interactions among community members.
Let’s Put It to Work
For community leaders: adopting an inclusive development approach is crucial. In order to work, these efforts need buy in from various stakeholders including educators, social scientists, not-for-profit organizations, city governments, and policy makers. It is also important to include perspectives and ideas from young people who will likely use the restructured spaces most frequently. Where possible, engage youth directly in the development process. Practical considerations include sustainability, funding mechanisms, maintenance, and environmental impact.
Photo by Nerea Martí Sesarino on Unsplash