Students Help Design Jamaica Playground

BY TRONE DOWD

A new playground in Southeast Queens will bring new meaning to the phrase “by the people, for the people.”

Melinda Katz spoke to some of the students who helped design the new park being built at PS 140.

Melinda Katz spoke to some of the students who helped design the new park being built at PS 140.

Construction has officially begun on a state-of-the-art play area at Jamaica’s PS 140. With the help of the Trust for Public Land, which “works to protect the places people care about and create close-to-home parks,” the playground was partially designed by students of the school. Their feedback was used to build out a comprehensive, safe and fun playground. According to the New York City School Construction Authority, the park will be open to the community, bringing 5,440 residents within a 10-minute walk of a playground.

The environmentally-friendly playground will include trees and green space, a running track, turf field, handball wall, basketball practice hoops, game tables, green roof gazebo, play equipment for children between the ages of 5 and 12 years and safety mats. The playground will also feature a color seal designed by students of PS 140 that honors jazz legend Duke Ellington, after whom the school is named.

At a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, students were joined by Councilman I. Daneek Miller (St. Albans) and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Both elected officials said that they were thrilled by the new addition. Miller remarked that student participation in the project represents the best that his council district has to offer.

“We celebrate the unveiling of the playground design conceived in the imaginations of the students of PS 140 Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington,” Miller said. “This self-made concept embodies the true spirit of a ‘For Us, By Us’ community based public works model.”

Katz shared this sentiment.

“The jazz great Duke Ellington was an innovative musician who would have been proud to see a playground of such inventive and creative design be built at the school that bears his name,” she said. “This student-designed and environmentally-friendly playground will be a critically important recreational resource that will help our children be physically active.”

The Trust for Public Land has conducted its “Playgrounds Program” since 1996 and argued that by including youngsters in the process of creating their own local parks, they will learn valuable skills and lessons about community engagement that can be applied later in life. The program also gives them a chance to put their math, science and architecture skills to the test.

PS 140 Principal David Norment said that this has been a big year for the school.

“With PS 140 being awarded a five-year Magnet grant, the construction of our new playground is the cherry on top,” he said. “Our new playground will beautify our neighborhood and enhance the environment. Our students designed our playground. This is a wonderful memory that our students will always take with them. We will all be waiting with baited breath for when it’s completed and students get to play in the playground for the first time.”

Construction of the playground is scheduled to be completed in June 2018.

Students all over Southeast Queens are making a habit of bettering their communities. In June, fifth graders from the Talfourd Lawn Elementary School in Jamaica worked with visual artists and the city’s Department of Transportation to create street-side banners reminding drivers to stay safe along Sutphin Boulevard.

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