P.S. 172 celebrates new playground

October 21, 2011 Heather Chin
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Eight-year-old Kenny had his eye on the cart of basketballs andsoccer balls, while seven-year-old Joseph was itching to climb onthe bridge between the steps and the slides.

It’s more colorful than the old one, said Samantha, seven,while surveying the new playground at P.S. 172 Beacon at FourthAvenue and 29th Street. Her classmate, Anirudha, also seven,agreed. The old one didn’t make us exercise, he noted.

With help from Borough President Marty Markowitz and thenonprofit Out 2 Play, P.S. 172 was able to realize a decades-longdream of renovating the uninviting, broken-in-areas black tarschoolyard and turning it into a bright, colorful, fully equippedreal playground that provides a healthy and educational environmentfor both the kids and the community.

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We have a cemetery on one side and prisons on the other, saidPrincipal Jack Spatola. We wanted this dreary space to betransformed not only for the students and parents, but for thechildren and families of the community to use. One, it’s healthy,and two, it’s for quality of life.

The new playground was completed in early October and officiallyunveiled on Tuesday, October 18, with a ribbon-cutting ceremonythat saw many of the school’s over 600 students, parents andteachers gathered outside alongside Markowitz, Assemblymember FelixOrtiz, and Out 2 Play Program Administrator Sarah Gilbert tocelebrate.

What they saw triggered huge smiles. Now, in addition to thepre-existing slides, bridges and monkey bars, there are therequisite basketball hoops and soccer netting for spirited gamesbetween classes, rain-proof hopscotch courses on the pavement, amile-long running track around the ball field, and even a map ofthe United States so that students can see what states are where.Soon, there will also be trees.

Growing up, our parks weren’t as nice and colorful, saidSandra Peña, who serves on the School Leadership Team and whosedaughter is in the third grade. There is a great need and a lot ofpush this year for a healthier lifestyle for our children. This isa gift.

We are always looking to do more outside, with reading and mathand health. This is a great addition, said math coach AngelaVentura. The hopscotch is great for number recognition and theshapes for sorting and finding the perimeters and areas.

I know that the fourth and fifth grade teachers are planning tohave [the students] stand on the map of the United States anddiscuss how [regions built relationships with one another], saidspecial education support teacher Anna Maria Rizzo.

Another benefit is in learning how to work together, saidkindergarten teacher Shara Eisner-Grynberg. Since there’s a lot ofstructure to games outside, it will also help [kids] socialize andlearn teamwork skills, she said.

As the new playground is also open to the community, thebenefits are two-fold.

After school, there are hundreds of children playing, theirparents are with them, and it’s truly a community center, saidRizzo. It’s a place to call their own.

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