New agreement provides public access to school playgrounds
City, School Districts 6 & 7 announce new partnership
Building on its reputation as a “Playful City, USA”, the City of Spartanburg and its partners at Spartanburg County School Districts 6 and 7, and Partners for Active Living, announced today a new initiative that will allow citizens greater use of school playgrounds in the City.
The joint-use agreement, the second of its type in the state, will allow the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to develop and implement programming and supervise use at the playgrounds, which now will be open on weekends during the school year, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for summer break starting June 1. Previously, most school playgrounds have not been accessible to the public, primarily because of safety and liability concerns.
The new program will be celebrated on Saturday, April 20, with a community play day at each school playground in the City from 10 a.m. to noon. Each playground that day will be staffed by a recreation leader who will organize games, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, and other activities. The City will also provide children with a healthy snack, fruit and water.
Partners for Active Living, a Spartanburg-based non-profit that has long partnered with the City on a variety of initiatives that promote physical activity as a part of everyday life, will work with the City and the school districts to evaluate usage of the playgrounds, essential feedback that will help the program to evolve as needed over time.
“The importance of this new agreement cannot be overstated,” said Mitch Kennedy, the City’s Director of Community Services. “Providing more and more convenient opportunities for children to play and be physically active in a safe, constructive, supervised environment is a key element of our community’s collective vision. While the City certainly has a leading role to play in the continuing effort to provide more recreational amenities and opportunities, we are fortunate to have local school districts and organizations such as Partners for Active Living who understand why this is so important.
“This is also an example of how partnerships make our community exponentially stronger. By sharing resources and working together, the City and our school districts will be able to significantly increase opportunities for our children to play and be physically active, at very little cost to the taxpayer.”
The City is planning a schedule of programming and activities at many of the school playgrounds for the weekend and summer hours, details of which will be released soon.
“We are excited about what this means for our families, children and school district,” said Spartanburg County School District 6 Superintendent Darryl Owings. “Physically active children are healthier children, and there is an important link between health and academic achievement. This is a partnership that makes sense for the community, and I am looking forward to seeing these playgrounds filled with the sounds of happy, active children outside the normal school day.”
“This is an idea that has been discussed for a long time, and it is incredibly exciting to see it coming to fruition,” said School District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker. “The health and wellness benefits of this partnership are incredibly important. Additionally, I believe what our neighborhoods and our schools will gain from this go even further. School District 7 benefits a great deal from the very special relationships our schools have with the neighborhoods where they are located. Our families view their neighborhood schools and certainly Spartanburg High School as a true center of community life. As our children and families enjoy the expanded accessibility to our campuses, this partnership will only strengthen those bonds.”
“Joint-use agreements are a national best practice in preventing childhood obesity,” said Partners for Active Living Executive Director Laura Ringo. “It is exciting to see Spartanburg leading our state in creating a healthy community. This effort shows the strength and importance of partnerships in this community.”