Sharon Danks, an environmental planner and founding partner of Berkeley’s Bay Tree Design, is a leader in transforming asphalt playgrounds into kid-friendly places replete with ponds, plants, and places to play.
This video, produced by Erika Brekke for OnEarth magazine, shows Danks’ transformation of the grounds at Rosa Parks Elementary in Berkeley. It’s a wonderland for kids with tree stumps to sit on, rocks to climb on, ponds to study, and vegetables to eat. The teachers use the outdoor space in parts of the curriculum, too, the video shows.
One interesting revelation by Paco Furlan, the school principal: he notes that office referrals from misbehaving at recess are lower than in other schools in which he has taught. Some studies show that there are fewer incidences of bullying at schools with natural play areas because kids are involved in creative play rather than in traditional competitive sports activities like basketball or foursquare.
Danks, whom Berkeleyside interviewed in March, is the author of Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation.