The 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.