July 16 was a beautiful mid-summer day in the Portola neighborhood, and neighbors took full advantage to gather for the grand opening of the schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.
The entire lower yard was full of activities for parents and children alike. Children ran in to play on the big bounce house and slide combination provided by the Bayview YMCA. They squealed with laughter as they slid out of the jumper and ran right back around to jump even more. On other side of the yard, kids shot hoops and scored goals as neighborhood kids took advantage of the basketball hoops on the yard and SF Youth Soccer helped kids of all ages improve their kick. On the upper yard, firefighters from Engine 42 gave tours of their firetruck. Children were able to talk to their local firefighters, see their equipment, and even sit in the driver's seat. As the event went on, the yard became increasingly bright and colorful as kids stopped by the Little Artistas table and painted on the blacktop. By the end of the event, there was a mosaic of hearts, butterflies, cows, and whatever else came to the minds of Portola neighborhood kids.
In the middle of the yard, tents were set up for even more neighborhood organizations. The Martin Luther King Middle School PTA had a table telling families about their group. One Degree engaged families with a fun ball-toss carnival game, while Portola Family Connections had a table set up with a prize wheel. The Portola Branch Library, a close neighbor of MLK Middle School, informed the public of the programs and services they offer while handing out some free books.
The highlight of the event was the speaking program where Principal Essien addressed MLK neighbors and Supervisor Mark Farrell spoke of his motivations for starting the Shared Schoolyard Project and sharing it throughout the city.
The schoolyard at Martin Luther King Middle School is open to the public on weekends between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. The schoolyard will be opened by San Francisco Unified School District security staff 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.