News & Media

Bayview Residents Open New Playground at Bret Harte

bretharte-1826.jpgThanks to the San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project, the Bayview community has a new playground for use on weekends at Bret Harte Elementary School. Excited residents gathered Saturday, September 26 to celebrate the new space with a kick-off event that featured fun activities and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Between the games and educational opportunities provided by the American Heart Association, Tandem, SCRAP, Bayview Hunters Point YMCA and America SCORES, attendees remarked that the newly-opened schoolyard is a great addition to the neighborhood. With the playground open from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, neighbors have a new resource for community activity at their disposal.

The event’s ribbon cutting ceremony featured a welcome from District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell, who revamped the Shared Schoolyard Project in 2012 and plans to expand the effort to 80 schools. He was joined by Bret Harte Principal Jeremy Hilinski, District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, School Board President Dr. Emily Murase, School Board Commissioner Sandra Lee Fewer, and School Board Commissioner and Senior Advisor to the Mayor Hydra Mendoza to open the schoolyard on weekends.

Supervisor Farrell and the Shared Schoolyard Project will continue the celebration in Balboa Terrace Saturday, October 3 at Commodore Sloat Elementary School.

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Enthusiastic Crowd Celebrates Hillcrest Schoolyard Opening

hillcrest-6716.jpgSunshine and smiles were abundant at the San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project kick-off event on Saturday, September 20, as the Excelsior and Portola communities celebrated the grand re-opening of the Hillcrest Elementary schoolyard.

To mark the opening of the playground on weekends, attendees took part in a soccer scrimmage organized by AmericaSCORES, witnessed a healthy cooking demo by the American Heart Association, met local firemen, and discovered various neighborhood causes from the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, and Family Connections. Families also had the opportunity to learn about healthy teeth etiquette from Studio Dental, whose mobile dental office was a highlight of the event.

Halfway through the festivities project leader and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell -- joined by Hillcrest Elementary Principal Katerina Palomares and community children -- cut the ribbon to officially open the schoolyard. Palomares remarked to the crowd that the Shared Schoolyard Project allowed her school to unlock the playground’s potential, and that the space is both an asset to the school and greater community.

The Shared Schoolyard Project is just getting started with its exciting phase of opening events. After a string of successful celebrations, the project is gaining steam as it heads towards the next grand opening at Bret Harte Elementary School, on Saturday, September 26.

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Over 150 Gather to Celebrate Opening of Francis Scott Key Schoolyard

FSK.pngThe San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project celebrated the opening of the Francis Scott Key Elementary School playground Sunday, September 13 with a variety of fun activities that catered to the many families who attended the event. More than 150 community members of the Outer Sunset neighborhood gathered to support the opening of schoolyards on weekends.

To celebrate the re-opening of the schoolyard on weekends, community groups participated in activities ranging from games sponsored by the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center to an enthralling reading presented by the Children’s Book Project. Families also participated in the Francis Scott Key Parent Teacher Association’s ‘trading post,’ where toys and trinkets were exchanged. In between activities, wide-eyed children were given a hands-on tour of a local fire truck.  

"When I was growing up in the Sunset my brother and I used to have to hop over the fence to gain access to our yard to play ball. Now I can walk in through the gate and be joined by the rest of the neighborhood,” Matt Pemberton Director of the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center said during the festivities. “I had so many parents and grandparents tell me how excited they were to take their families to the schoolyard and get moving."

After a warm welcome from Francis Scott Key Elementary School Principal Ying Mimi Kasner, attendees joined project-founder and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Farrell began the effort in 2012 when he and his children were greeted with a locked gate at their neighborhood playground. Since then the Shared Schoolyard Project has enrolled 28 schools with its sights set on 80 in the next two years.

“Every child in San Francisco should have access to a safe, clean place to play that is within walking distance of their home, and the Shared Schoolyard Project provides that,” Farrell said at the event. “Events like the one at Francis Scott Key serve as a way to inform neighborhoods of their new playground and build a greater sense of community. The response has been amazing.”

The celebration is far from over as the Farrell and the Shared Schoolyard Project have seven more openings scheduled before the end of the year. Their next stop will be Hillcrest Elementary on Saturday, September 19 at 11 a.m.

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Hillcrest Festival Energized by Shared Schoolyard Fund


When the families of Hillcrest Elementary School arrived at the school’s 2015 Spring Festival they were greeted with a surprise. In addition to the festival’s typical activities, attendees were treated to musical and dance numbers and a Batman-themed bounce house for the thrills of inflated jumping.

The stage, performances, and bounce-house merriment were made possible by the San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project activities fund, which also helped provide supplies for smaller arts and crafts activities and healthy snacks for the kids. The fund provides up to $2,500 to participating schools on an event-by-event basis.

"The activities fund allowed us to make our annual Spring Festival bigger than ever," Stefanie Eldred, the site coordinator at Hillcrest, explained. “We were able to rent a stage for student performances, as well as jumpy houses. Our students and their families had a blast and it really helped bring the school community together.”

Funding for community events like the Spring Festival is one of many benefits of the Shared Schoolyard Project, which works to provide a fun, safe place for families to play and gather within walking distance of every child in San Francisco. The activity fund, along with the stipend for each participating school’s parent organization, is meant to connect San Francisco communities with their neighborhood schools.

The Shared Schoolyard Project is hosting a kick-off celebration at Hillcrest on Saturday, September 19 from 11 am to 1 pm with food, activities, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Community partners who will be present include Family Connections, the Filipino Community Center, and the local Fire Department. Find out more and RSVP here!

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Cleveland Elementary Schoolyard Kick-Off Celebration a Success

Enthusiastic families, children, and neighbors of the Excelsior community dispelled Saturday's gloomy weather with a spirited celebration marking the grand opening of the Cleveland Elementary schoolyard. As part of the San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project - led by Supervisor Mark Farrell - the Cleveland Elementary kick-off celebration is one of many events across the city that mark the opening previously closed schoolyards that provide safe, fun places for children and families to play on weekends.

Welcomed at the entrance by local firefighters from Station 43, attendees were treated to a day filled with a variety of fun activities. The schoolyard was abuzz with children playing soccer and basketball, while many families gathered at the Presidio Community YMCA’s woodworking station to build creative works of craftsmanship.

The highlight of the event was the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where Supervisor Farrell, Cleveland Elementary Principal Mark Sanchez, and community children officially opened the schoolyard on weekends. They were joined on stage by Supervisors John Avalos and Scott Wiener and City College Board Trustee Alex Randolph.

The Shared Schoolyard Project is just getting started with its exciting phase of opening events. With a successful celebration at Cleveland Elementary, the project is gaining steam as it heads towards the next grand opening at Francis Scott Key Elementary School on Saturday, September 12th.

Join the Shared Schoolyard Project at future events across San Francisco! See the full calendar here.


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Shared Schoolyard Project to Host Kick-Off Celebrations in Coming Months

The San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project - led by Supervisor Mark Farrell - is entering an exciting new phase, as the organization works toward opening previously closed schoolyards for families and children to gather and play. As more schools enroll in the in the project, we will host kick-off events at local schoolyards over the coming months to celebrate and build support for the project.

The first grand opening will take place at the Cleveland Elementary schoolyard Saturday, July 25th from 11 am to 1 pm. The community-driven event in the Excelsior neighborhood will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony by Supervisor Farrell, free snacks, a fire truck, and activities for the entire family. For more information and to RSVP, click here!

Currently, 28 public schools citywide are enrolled in the Shared Schoolyard Project, but there is more work to be done. With the goal of opening over 80 schoolyards in the coming months, our kick-off events will not only serve as celebrations for the work we are achieving, but also as a method to garner support for this important community project.  

Stay tuned for more information regarding a kick-off event in your neighborhood. We hope you will join us and help spread the word! 

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SF Examiner: San Francisco supervisor helping to reopen schoolyards on weekends

More of San Francisco’s schoolyards are opening up to the public over the weekends thanks to the efforts of Supervisor Mark Farrell, who is calling on more principals to get on board.

Due to budget cuts years ago, the San Francisco Unified School District started shuttering schoolyards on weekends. But under the Shared Schoolyards project, which is receiving a boost from Farrell, more and more are reopening.

Farrell has spearheaded a campaign that has raised about $100,000 annually to pay for the unlocking and locking of the gates, cleanup and programming. Read more here.

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Mayor Edwin M. Lee Supervisor Mark Farrell SF Parks Alliance SFUSD SF 311 SFPD SF DPW SF Recreation and Parks