To Build a Healthier City, Atlanta is Opening Its Schoolyards to Everyone [nationswell.com]

 

By Monica Humphries, Nation Swell, July 19, 2019.

It’s known as the “City in a Forest,” thanks to 100-year-old oaks, maples and magnolias that create a tree canopy covering nearly half the city. 

But what may come as a surprise is that many of Atlanta’s residents don’t have easy access to a public park. One-third of Atlanta’s population lives more than a 10-minute walk from a green space, and the city ranks 42nd for park access based on an evaluation of America’s 100 largest cities by the Trust For Public Land. 

Meanwhile, the city’s largest landowner keeps its doors closed after hours, on weekends and during the summer. Why? Because it’s Atlanta’s public school system. 

Atlanta’s embarking on a journey to open up its schoolyard gates. It’s the latest city in the United States to participate in this growing movement to renovate schoolyards and create public parks.

In support of the initiative, the city of Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools and organizations like Park Pride, Trust for Public Land and the Urban Land Instituteare working together to open up schoolyards and increase green space for the city. 

“We like to think that parks are the heart of communities, but those neighborhood schools are similarly that center of the community,” Michael Halicki, the executive director of Park Pride, an Atlanta nonprofit that works with communities to improve parks, told NationSwell. “It really has been an example of how bringing different partners together we can do things that, in isolation, would never be possible.”

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