Preparing plants at Space to Grow
Photo: Courtesy of Space to Grow

At some Chicago schools, concrete lots have been replaced with gardens, sports fields, and new playgrounds.

Kelly: “We are transforming schoolyards at Chicago public schools into beautiful and functional spaces for kids to be active and be outdoors and connect with nature.”

That’s Meg Kelly with the Space to Grow project. It’s a partnership between the Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands, a conservation organization. She says they plan to renovate at least 34 schoolyards.

The areas provide more than a place to run and play.

They include rain gardens and permeable surfaces so stormwater can seep into the ground, rather than running off into the streets.

That helps reduce neighborhood flooding, a growing problem as climate change brings more heavy rains.

Project leaders are educating the community about these stormwater management methods.

Kelly: “We do workshops with parents and community members. And then we’re also giving out rain barrels and native plants to start gardens so they can make small changes at home and sort of extend that collective impact.”

So from the benefits of outdoor time to helping reduce flooding, the effects of these green spaces extend far beyond the schoolyard fence.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Samantha Harrington, director of audience experience for Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. Sam is especially interested...