Iowa State University assistant professor of landscape architecture Bambi Yost is partnering with nonprofits, governmental agencies and others to improve schoolyards across the country.
Yost is working with Iowa State students on this program. Last year, they worked with the Philadelphia Mt. Airy Neighborhood Schools Coalition to develop master plans for six schools.
"If you're attending a public school with an asphalt playground, while the private school down the street has a green athletic field, gardens, and every piece of play equipment imaginable, it's not equitable," Yost said. "You know your social status just walking down the street. You are told that you are not valued enough to get that schoolyard.”
Two student plans from the Philadelphia project were recognized by state and regional chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Yost states that making improvements to public school facilities can also have social and economic benefits. Research also indicates that educational experiences can be enhanced with facilities that support outdoor activities and educational projects.
"It's all about building momentum and bringing motivated community members, kids, teachers and others to the table,” Yost said.