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New Schoolyard Unveiled at Horace Mann Elementary

06 October 2021

One of 34 new schoolyards to be rehauled with CPS Partner `Space to Grow’

CPS Office of Communications

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CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez joined Horace Mann Elementary Interim Principal Karon Marie Purkett Wednesday at the opening of a new ‘Space to Grow’ Schoolyard. Our Space to Grow partnership transforms Chicago schoolyards into beautiful and functional spaces to play, learn, garden, and enjoy the outdoors.

“As a former CPS student who attended neighborhood schools, I truly understand what this beautiful new outdoor space at Horace Mann will mean for student learning and the entire community,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “Providing a shared space where family and friends can come together is a great way to strengthen the bond between a school and a neighborhood.”

The updated green space at the South Shore school features areas for physical activity, including a turf field, jogging track, basketball, tennis courts, and play equipment for all ages. The schoolyard also incorporates features that capture a significant amount of rainfall, resulting in less neighborhood flooding. 

“The new state-of-the-art playground equipment is the perfect space for students to balance the parts of their school day spent inside the classroom,” said Interim Principal Purkett. “The new basketball courts and track are amazing resources for our budding athletes. The gardens tie everything together and will be an awesome way to incorporate nature into what our students are learning.” 

School officials and partners, including those from the Healthy Schools Campaign, referenced research that confirms school facilities can significantly impact student learning, behavior, and health. 

“We are thrilled to be a managing partner for Space to Grow, which is supporting the health and education of 10,000 students and counting, and having a great impact on 30 neighborhoods across Chicago,” said Rochelle Davis, President + CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign. “These green schoolyards also benefit the broader community and our environment and are an important part of the city's resilience efforts.” 

Chicago Public Schools and its partners at Space to Grow and Openlands are currently planning to overhaul 30 schoolyards by 2022.   

“Creating greenspace is essential in city spaces, providing access to nature and innovative ways to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Jerry Adelmann, President & CEO of Openlands. “Openlands is proud to be a partner in Space to Grow, which centers equity in all aspects of the program and through its rainwater mitigation, makes flood-prone communities more resilient in the future.”

Our capital funding partners The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Department of Water Management made this investment in Horace Mann and our children’s future possible. This is the 27th schoolyard in the district that has been transformed thanks to our partnerships.