Learn more about A Playground for Walker!

 

Parents of students attending Charlottesville City Schools would like to support our community in building a playground for Walker Upper Elementary School! If you are interested in getting involved, including taking a survey to provide student and parent feedback, please sign up to receive updates by emailing christa@communitywell.com.

Currently, Walker does not have a playground. Instead, it has a basketball court, a four square section of the court, and a soccer field (which is often unusable due to wear and tear from weekend soccer games). This is problematic, as it limits the options students have for critically important physical movement during the day. In a 2018 study by Oregon State University, researchers found that one of the contributors to quality recess experiences for students was “plenty of choices of play equipment and games.”

During a school project that engaged all sixth-graders at Walker in fall 2018, students identified a playground as one of the top things they wanted for their school.

The lack of a Walker playground is particularly unfortunate because it is at this upper elementary divide that economic and racial disparities in Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) become even more pronounced, per public data. Walker has the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students of any CCS school, and its percentage of students of color is higher than the citywide average, as well. We want for all students to have access to adequate spaces to play.

In conversations with community stakeholders over the last year, several key parties have expressed interest in supporting a playground for Walker. This includes local nonprofits; Walker’s principal, Dr. Adam Hastings; and CCS School Board members Juandiego Wade and Lisa Larson-Torres, in addition to CCS parents.

We are looking to community stakeholders, including students, for information on the best play materials to serve student need. We are working with local design thinkers to create opportunities for community feedback, using a structure similar to last fall’s Participatory Budgeting at Walker, a design thinking and democratic process to determine creative, student-driven solutions to the question “How might we improve the school experience at Walker?” Through this innovative approach, students would be part of the process of deciding what a playground at Walker should include. The final designs and equipment, as informed by students, may include innovative playscapes outside of traditional playground structures.

Thank you for taking time to learn more about A Playground for Walker!

If you have questions or would like to be added to a mailing list to receive updates on how you can be involved, please email Christa Bennett at christa@communitywell.com.

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