On Saturday, July 30, the Western Addition community gathered at Rosa Parks Elementary school to celebrate the grand opening of the schoolyard for neighbors to use on weekends. The wide variety of community partners at this event demonstrated the full diversity of the Western Addition neighborhood.
The participants who entered the schoolyard from Ellis Street were greeted by a large fire engine, which firefighters from SFFD Station 5 were happy to give tours of. Near the fire truck, neighborhood kids were able to play cops and robbers in a squad car provided by SFPD Northern Station. Meanwhile, on the yard, adults, children, police officers, and a few public officials all joined together to play some basketball with SF Tots. On the opposite corner of the basketball court, SF Youth Soccer helped neighborhood kids refine their kicks with soccer activities.
The Rosa Parks PTA set up a table representing the school and the work their association does for the Rosa Parks community. Meanwhile, Mo MAGIC and neighborhood families discussed various resources available for neighborhood kids. Leah's Pantry had tasty and nutritional snacks for event participants, and provided a demonstration showing the amount of sugar that is actually in popular drinks. Kids learned to play a traditional Korean game with the Korean Center, who also brought a few snacks for people to try. Handful Players worked to recruit more kids for their free musical theater program in the hopes of bringing out every child's inner thespian. Participants also learned of the incredible health and environmental benefits of bike riding with the San Francisco Bike Coalition.
In the second row of tables, Experience Corps spread the word about their fantastic program which utilizes the help of senior citizen volunteers to teach literacy to young children. The Western Addition Branch Library brought a prize wheel and spoke of the various programs hosted out of the library branch closest to the school. Kids watched in awe as Infinite Martial Arts Studio provided a few demonstrations of martial arts movements. This studio also graciously donated a full free month of martial arts classes to one lucky winner at the event. Right next to the martial arts demonstrations, children were able to add their own creations to the blacktop with chalk provided by the Buchanan Branch YMCA, who also brought delicious fruit for neighbors.
The highlight of the event was the speaking program, which started off with Principal Paul Jacobson, who explained how the San Francisco Unified School District mission statement is embodied in the Shared Schoolyard Project. Supervisor Mark Farrell spoke about his motivations for starting the Shared Schoolyard Project and sharing it throughout the city, followed by Board President London Breed reflecting on her childhood days hopping the fence at that very school to play on the yard. Now neighborhood kids can play and enjoy the space freely.
The schoolyard at Rosa Parks Elementary School is open to the public on weekends between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. The schoolyard will be opened by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and cleaned by the San Francisco Department of Public Works. For any questions or specific information about the Shared Schoolyard Project, please contact Chris Sally at firstname.lastname@example.org.