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School and Community Participation in the Design, Construction, and Stewardship of Green School Grounds

The best green school ground projects are those that seek to maximize public participation in their design, construction, and stewardship. Many schools successfully involve students, teachers, school administrators, community members, design professionals, and other interested individuals and organizations in these ongoing aspects of their projects.

Widespread participation helps ecological schoolyard projects to meet the needs of those who will use the site. It also helps to foster a sense of pride and "ownership" of the site in all members of the community who participate. These factors help to keep the project alive for many years, and also help to reduce the incidence of vandalism on the grounds.The list of resources below provides information about increasing participation on school ground projects, and will help you to get started on related projects of your own. The list of case studies below includes examples of projects around the world that include significant participatory elements.

Please contact the webmaster if you know of additional resources or case studies that should be added to this page. Thanks!

Resources for Participation in Green School Ground Projects

Resource Title Description
Boston Schoolyard Initiative

An organization working to improve schoolyards in the City of Boston. Excellent example of an effective program using widespread student and community participation. Additional articles: 1

Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Leathers and Associates Playground design firm that specializes in including community participation in the design and construction of unique playgrounds. Ithaca, New York, USA
Children's Participation, College of Design, North Carolina State University Online powerpoint show entitled: "Turning Neighborhoods into Childhood Habitats: Participatory Urban Planning Processes with Young People" - hosted by the website of the Natural Learning Initiative. North Carolina , USA


Participation Resources around the World

The Norwegian Environmantal Education Network National organization designed to coordinate student participation in science studies around the country. Emphasis is placed on student monitoring of a local study site in their neighborhood. National, Norway
Research on Children's Participation, Childwatch International Information about a symposium on "Children's Participation in Community Settings," at the University of Oslo, June 2000, and additional related topics. Oslo, Norway
Tools for Participatory Planning Information about participatory planning techniques, on the website of Children's Landscape, by Frode Svane. Oslo, Norway


Participation Case Studies on School Grounds

School Name Project Description Location
Dream Land for Kids Playground, Aquatic Park Elementary school students from Berkeley public schools worked with a design team from Leathers and Associates and many community members to create a wonderful, unique playground in a public park. Berkeley, California, USA
Montgomery High School This school has an impressive San Diego Native Plants Garden that was designed and built by the high school students and their teachers. San Diego, California, USA
Shiver Me Timbers Millennium Park Park designed and built with extensive participation from local children and the community, under the direction of Leathers and Assoicates. Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA
TreeTops 2000

Collaboration between Ithaca High School Class of 2000 students and designers from Leathers and Associates to build a whimsical and ambitious three-story tree house/nature observation center at Cayuga Nature Center. Photos and story of the finished structure

Ithaca, New York, USA
Southern Pines Elementary School Students, teachers, parents, and community members worked with Robin Moore to create a green schoolyard for outdoor studies and play. Southern Pines, North Carolina, USA
Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College

The design of the A.J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies embodies the principles that are taught at this school. The building is extremely energy efficient, and is a net energy producer. Recycled products were used in the building's construction. A living machine processes waste products from the building's toilet system. University students were extensively involved in the research and design phases of the building's construction, and now continue to monitor the building's eco-effectiveness. Additional articles: 1, 2

Oberlin, Ohio, USA
Participation Case Studies around the World
Forslaget schoolyard project Scale model of a schoolyard project in Denmark, created by students Copenhagen, Denmark