Students help transform Longwood school yard
By Jeanmarie Evelly
Students from Middle School 424 and the Hyde Leadership Charter School on Bryant Avenue celebrated the opening of a new playground they helped design themselves.
Improving their neighborhood
The students worked for nine months to design their dream playground, with the help of a nonprofit group that creates parks in crowded neighborhoods that lack green space.
“It’s very hard to find a good playground in the area that’s meaning I come and I’m not going to find broken bottles,” said Sandrine Copitch, who brought her two young sons to play on the new jungle gym.
The playground, funded by finance company Credit Suisse, features brand new play equipment, basketball courts, a running track, a football field and sprinklers—all a far cry from what was there before.
“It was a playground, but it wasn’t like this,” said eighth-grader Anajess Alarez, who helped to design the park. “We only had two basketball courts and they were all messed up. They didn’t have the nets, and we had stuff drawn on the floors, like graffiti.”
Kids as architects
The students used sketches and two-dimensional templates to come up with ideas for the site. Then all the students at MS 424 voted on a final design plan, said Maddalena Polletta, design consultant for the Trust for Public Land, the group that worked with the students.
“We really try to involve the kids in part of the construction process,” Polletta said. “Hunts Point is really in need of trees and so they were really focused on bringing more trees to the playground and having kind of a welcoming, planted entrance. They planted all of those flowers and shrubs.”
. “I’m proud to be the principal in a place where people are so concerned about the welfare of children, and the neighborhoods that sometimes need things the most,” said John Hughes, principal at MS 424.
A version of this article appeared in the August edition of the Hunts Point Express.