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Schoolyard with GSI opens  at Lowell Elementary 
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Schoolyard with GSI opens  at Lowell Elementary 

The space provides students access to an outdoor learning space and decreases the park equity gap in the Olney neighborhood.

A newly renovated community schoolyard at James R. Lowell Elementary School in Olney provides green space to students while integrating green stormwater infrastructure.  The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the School District of Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia, and the Sixers Youth Foundation celebrated the opening in May.

Lowell Elementary serves 524 students in Kindergarten to fourth grade. The new schoolyard was designed with depaving and porous materials, which enable the schoolyard to absorb stormwater, preventing runoff. The project was due to a partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department.

The space was designed with the entire community in mind, working with students and residents during the design process. TPL conducted community design sessions with Olney Culture Lab and led artistic exercises to spark the imaginations of the community while designing the space.

“The students were so excited to be part of the design when it came to making the new schoolyard and now, they will get to enjoy what they worked so hard to create,” said Lowell principal Chantal Barr. “This really means something to them. Neighbors, parents, teachers, everyone can’t wait to get out there.” 

After school hours, the space will also serve the community. Less than 1% of schoolyards are opened to the public outside school hours nationwide. Transforming schoolyards like Lowell can make a difference for students and their families. The Trust for Public Land has projects across Philadelphia and the country to create green schoolyards and spaces where neighbors can come together to play, socialize, exercise and learn. 

Find out more about the Lowell Space here:


Picture: Jenna Stamm/Courtesy of Trust for Public Land

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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