NYer Of The Week: Manhattanite Builds Play Spaces For School Kids
Recess has been even better for school kids across the five boroughs thanks to the efforts of the latest New Yorker of the Week. NY1's Rebecca Spitz filed the following report on why these students are excited to get Out 2 Play.
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In just a few short months, the empty lot behind P.S. 127 in Bay Ridge will be a state-of-the-art playground.
"The kids are going to enjoy it,” said P.S. 127K custodian Luis Sciacca. “On the weekends, we're going to leave it open for everyone.”
The person the community can thank for the transformation is Andrea Wenner, founder of the non-profit Out 2 Play.
“They’re really excited,” said Wenner. “The kids apparently the last couple of days when they started construction were hanging out of the window looking at all the trucks, eagerly awaiting the completion of the project.”
Wenner formed Out 2 Play in 2005 right out of business school, after noticing a school in her Upper East Side neighborhood didn’t have a playground and instead was just blocking off a street for the kids to play. Over the past five years, she's created 80 playgrounds throughout the city. Another 40 are scheduled to be complete by the fall
"I started looking at what the need was and it was just huge,” she said. “There are about 700 elementary schools in the city and about half of them at the time didn’t have real playgrounds. They had just asphalt lots."
Funding comes from elected officials, the Department of Education and private donors. Wenner uses the money to hire designers and contractors and to buy the new equipment.
Among the schools that has benefitted is P.S. 208 in Harlem.
“Now it’s colorful,” said P.S. 208 student Natasha Rodriguez. “It has everything that we could play with.”
“They are elated, the love recess. I think their behavior has improved a lot more so that they can earn recess time. They enjoy it,” said P.S. 208 Principal Susan M. Green. “It’s a great thing for us to have.”
So for envisioning and creating a city where all school children can have a place to play, Andrea Wenner is the latest New Yorker of the Week.If you'd like to nominate someone to be NY1's New Yorker of the Week, send an email describing their qualifications to: firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a letter to:
New Yorker of the Week
75 Ninth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011