Rodale Inc. today announced support of a new community garden and playground at New York City’s P.S. 19, the nation’s largest elementary school, located in Corona Queens. Previously a cracked asphalt lot, the new $1 million P.S. 19 Community Playground was developed by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in partnership with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative and HANAC Corona Beacon, with Rodale and the Metlife Foundation providing lead private funding.
“Rodale is honored to work with Mayor Bloomberg, The Trust for Public Land, and others in support of the new garden and playground at P.S. 19,” said Steven Pleshette Murphy, Rodale President and CEO. “We’re proud to bring our commitment to health and wellness to life for the benefit of the vibrant, energetic P.S. 19 community.”
The playground, which includes a community garden, a running track, multi-purpose courts, a water play spray, trees, an amphitheater, benches, play equipment and painted games, will be accessible to the school’s nearly two thousand students, along with families from the surrounding community.
Located at 98-02 Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, Queens, close to Citi Field and Flushing Meadow Parks, P.S. 19 has a diverse student body, with 61 percent of its mostly Ecuadorian, Mexican and Dominican population qualifying as English Language Learners.
At the playground’s grand opening event on Tuesday, April 21, www.tpl.org/nyevents, Rodale’s Organic Gardening team will help some of the school’s fourth and fifth graders plant vegetable seedlings and seeds provided by Rodale. In addition, Organic Gardening is donating gardening books to P.S. 19 to enhance teachers’ lesson plans and bamboo for students to create and build a garden trellis.
Scott Meyer, Executive Editor of Organic Gardening said, “School gardens are an invaluable outdoor classroom that give teachers the opportunity to engage students with practical lessons in math, science, history and geography. And research shows that kids who tend a garden are much more likely to eat healthy foods. That’s a priceless lesson that lasts a lifetime.”
The P.S. 19 Community Playground is the fourth of 24 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of its NYC Playgrounds Program. The space was designed by students, staff, parents, community members, and HANAC Corona Beacon through TPL.
“Prior to this transformation, students and neighborhood children had to make the most of a cracked asphalt lot filled without any play equipment. The students were yearning for a place to play during recess and after school. Today, their dream became a reality,” said Andy Stone, director of TPL’s Parks for People—New York City program.
The Trust for Public Land has created 33 community playgrounds throughout New York City. In partnership with the city’s PlaNYC initiative, TPL is working to transform 185 schoolyards with playgrounds by 2010. The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has created or enhanced more than 250 neighborhood parks in New York City, investing roughly $200 million in land purchases and in the design, construction and stewardship of parks.
The P.S. 19 Community Playground is the second community garden in New York City that Rodale has helped develop. In 2005, the company renovated the Pleasant Park Community Garden in East Harlem to create an organic urban farm featuring a rainwater collection system where members grow food.