OPINION: Children deserve better playgrounds
Parks Dept. needs a bigger budget
Take a moment and think about your childhood playground, no matter how long ago it was. I’m sure you remember running around with your friends, playing on the swings and the monkey bars. I bet it was even nicer if you grew up in a suburban neighborhood or your city’s parks were well-funded.
However, here at P.S. 46 Edward C. Blum Elementary School in Fort Greene, our school yard is a sad place to look and play at. Our playground, which is a jointly-operated park attached to Oracle Playground, has one giant open space with cracked concrete and nothing for us to play on. The other students and I currently use this as a place to walk, run and jump rope, and some play basketball but that’s it.
We can use Oracle Playground during PE class and recess, but the jungle gym is old and too big for the younger kids, the swings are too small for growing kids like me and the rocking animals are broken. In addition, the water fountains don’t work, we don’t have working sprinklers during the hot weather and there aren’t any functioning bathrooms there.
Not all playgrounds are equal, even in our own community, and our playground has a lot of issues. The equipment doesn’t work and the playground floods when it rains. It is unfortunate and not fair. Other schools in our neighborhood share school yards that have nice basketball courts, a track and field, swings for all ages, even pools and not to mention working equipment.
Last October, P.S. 46 hosted a planting event with then-Democratic nominee Crystal Hudson of New York City Council District 35 as part of New Yorkers for Parks’ annual Daffodil Project. For its 20th anniversary, we honored the victims of 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic but also called attention to our decaying playground. When the daffodils we planted bloom in the coming weeks, they will serve as a reminder of how desperately we need to dedicate 1 percent of the city budget to the Parks Department.
This funding will not only make a huge difference for our parks and open spaces across the five boroughs, especially as more people start using parks now that spring has arrived, but for children like me — the future generation of New York City.
One percent for parks is an investment in our future so our parks and playgrounds can be a clean and safe place for kids to learn and play. Playgrounds and parks are critical for kids of all ages and abilities. My classmates and I want a playground that we can all use — not just some of us.
Having a working playground and spending time outdoors at school increases physical activity, improves a student’s brain functioning which helps them to perform better in class, promotes social growth and allows us to have fun.
We want to have fond memories of our childhood playground, not images of its disarray and sadness. This is only possible if Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council commits to 1 percent for parks, ensuring that the Parks Department has the resources it needs to improve my playground and maintain the rest of our parks and open spaces for all New Yorkers.
Evangeline Medrano is a fifth grade student and student body president at P.S. 46 Edward C. Blum Elementary School in District 35. She expressed these views at a Parks Committee budget hearing last week.