New grounds are part of a pilot initiative, Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards
After more than a year of community planning and several months of construction, Morrill Elementary School in Chicago will unveil its brand new schoolyard, Saturday, Oct. 11 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. The new grounds are part of a pilot initiative, Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards, co-managed by Chicago-based nonprofits Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands and funded by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Department of Water Management.
The Space to Grow program seeks to transform Chicago's schoolyards into vibrant outdoor spaces. The renovation included tearing up large sections of crumbling asphalt and neglected playground equipment in a flood prone neighborhood, and installing a multifaceted "green" schoolyard. The new schoolyard includes a turf field, jogging track and basketball court, and age-appropriate play equipment. The grounds also feature areas for outdoor learning and exploration, including an outdoor classroom, vegetable gardens and rain gardens. The schoolyard was designed to include ground surfaces and landscape features that absorb large amounts of water, which will result in less neighborhood flooding.
Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, community members and volunteers will spend the day at Morrill planting bulbs and flowers and spreading mulch in the gardens.
In addition to Morrill, Space to Grow pilot schools include: Grissom Elementary School in Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood, Leland Elementary School in Austin, and Schmid Elementary School in Pullman. Each school was engaged in a months-long planning process during which school staff, students and community members provided a vision for their schoolyard. The schoolyards were then designed and constructed to meet the unique needs and visions of each community. Construction crews broke ground in July at each of the four schools.