Community schoolyard at Bregy

The F. Amedee Bregy Elementary School unveiled its new community schoolyard.

Thanks to $425,000 in federal funding secured by U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, children and residents in the vicinity of the school at 1700 Bigler St. have new climate-resilient community space. The grounds were formerly a paved, asphalt schoolyard that increased urban heat, flooding and safety concerns.

“Our children and families deserve safe spaces to play and gather within our communities,” said Scanlon. “Too many of our neighbors don’t have access to quality park space, so I was proud to help close the park equity gap in PA-05 by securing $425,000 in federal funding to help transform Bregy Elementary’s asphalt public schoolyard into a community playground, green space and outdoor learning center to benefit the entire neighborhood. I’m thrilled to celebrate the schoolyard’s opening, and I want to thank Trust for Public Land, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Water Department for their work to make the project a reality.”

Trust for Public Land worked closely with third-graders from F. Amedee Bregy to bring their ideas for a community schoolyard to life. The students visited the Fairmount Water Works to learn about the history of the city’s water and they engaged with community members to generate new ideas for the project. 

Students worked in groups to propose concept designs and presented their ideas to classmates while enhancing their science, technology, engineering, arts and math skills through planning and design workshops, They learned about the importance of healthy watersheds and took field trips to other renovated schoolyards in the city to get inspiration for their space.

“We know that high-quality outdoor spaces where students can enjoy recess and outdoor educational activities are crucial to our students’ mental health and wellbeing,” said Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. “By partnering with organizations to invest in our school communities, we can collaboratively create inclusive and welcoming environments where students want to be and learn everyday.”

The new space will benefit more than 300 students of Bregy, along with serving as a community hub for the over 8,800 residents within a 10-minute walk of the school, who will now be able to access quality green space. The schoolyard will help advance climate solutions by managing 1.5 million gallons of stormwater per year, ensuring the health of surrounding waterways.

“Parks are essential for the mental and physical well-being of all Philadelphians, and this new schoolyard is a key part of our work to close the park equity gap, giving more than 8,600 residents access to the benefits of close-to-home green space,” said Owen Franklin, Pennsylvania State Director for Trust for Public Land. “In addition to serving the entire neighborhood with quality park access, this space will give students the opportunity to learn and play outdoors, while its green infrastructure features will absorb over a million gallons of stormwater that would otherwise flood our city streets.”

In addition to HUD Community Project funding, renovations were made possible through the Philadelphia Water Department’s biggest investment in a TPL schoolyard to date of nearly $1 million. Additional funding was attributed to the School District of Philadelphia and grants from local and national partners including the VF Foundation, the Sixer Youth Foundation, The McLean Contributionship and Spring Point Partners.

 “Our partnerships bringing green infrastructure improvements to local schools are always some of the most rewarding projects,” said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy E. Hayman. “In addition to protecting our waterways and making improvements at Bregy, we are connecting with classroom teachers and students throughout the district with our Fairmount Water Works’ watershed curriculum, exponentially increasing the positive impact of our investments.”