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Jennie Reed Elementary is remaking recess

Students at Jennie Reed Elementary once had to shout during recess to be heard above the noise of traffic from nearby Interstate 5. In the winter, their playground flooded and the dilapidated play structures were nicknamed “old rusty.”

That’s all changed thanks to a revitalized playground designed by students and neighbors. The renovated park replaces old equipment, reduces flooding and provides green space for the community to improve their physical and mental health after school.

Tacoma Public Schools (TPS), Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Metro Parks Tacoma (MPT) celebrate the opening of the new playground in Jenny Reed Elementary Wednesday, May 22 at 10:45 am with an event led by their students.

“This is more than a playground. We’re showing our students that if they say something is important to them, we’re going to do something about it,” said Abby Sloan, principal of Jennie Reed Elementary. “Adding Trees to Block The Noise from Nearby I-5 Makes It Easier for Students to Hear Teachers and Each Other During the School Day.”

Jennie Reed Elementary is located in the northwest corner of the Lincoln International District and serves an area of ​​Tacoma with the highest concentration of concrete. The new park will give 1,510 people access to green space within a 10-minute walk of where they live. The park will be open to the public after school, on weekends and during the summer, providing green space where neighbors can exercise and relax. Access to the community will correspond with Metro Parks operating hours, except during school hours or school-related events.

Renovations have added resources that allow students to participate in sports year-round. Additions include trees to reduce highway noise and reduce stress, replacements of outdated playground equipment and improved drainage. The renovated playground will also house modern courts and basketball courts, as well as ramps to improve accessibility.

The opening of Jennie Reed marks the second major playground renovation in Tacoma, aimed at building green community spaces in the city. In the coming years, TPS, TPL and MPT will revive three additional playgrounds to complement the tree-filled playgrounds they built at Helen B. Stafford and Jennie Reed elementary schools.

Neighbors played a major role in the creation of the new park and contributed ideas during workshops and pop-up events. Community members were so excited to finally have access to green space that they met regularly to plant 60 trees on the park grounds.

“This project has been years in the making. We are grateful to our partners who have worked tirelessly to listen to our students, our school team and neighbors to create this amazing new space that will benefit students and the broader community,” said Tacoma Public School Board President Lisa Keating.

Research has shown that Tacoma has the greatest access to parks of any major city in Washington, prompting a partnership between TPL, MPT and TPS to add parks for the communities that need them most. The five new schoolyard parks will serve more than 25,000 people.

Improvements were made possible through community involvement, planning support and funding from Trust for Public Land and Metro Parks Tacoma. Additional funding was provided by Kaiser Permanente, Washington State, the Names Family Foundation, Russell Family Foundation, Wyncote Foundation Northwest, Boeing and Bamford Foundation, as well as many generous corporations, foundations and community members.

With land prices rising in Tacoma, transforming existing schoolyards into community parks outside of school hours is a cost-effective and innovative solution, adding natural and public spaces to communities that need them most.

“At Kaiser Permanente, we continually strive to improve the health of our communities,” said Dr. Sarah Haastrup, district medical director and family medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Tacoma Medical Center. “We know that parks like the Tacoma Green Schoolyard benefit all ages, creating accessible green space that can help build physical fitness, improve mental health and build essential social connections – and that’s good for everyone.”

With the opening of the renovated schoolyards at Jennie Reed Elementary and Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Trust for Public Land and partners are working to complete fundraising for Mann, Whitman and Larchmont elementary schools.

Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public lands and created more than 5,420 parks, trails, schoolyards and iconic outdoor spaces. For more information, visit tpl.org.