New green and healthy schoolyards are open at five MPS schools

October 20, 2022

Students celebrated last week at five Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) as Green and Healthy Schoolyards were officially opened. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Benjamin Franklin, Hayes Bilingual, Neeskara, and Zablocki schools have completed work that removed old asphalt playgrounds and transformed spaces into outdoor classrooms, prairie-style gardens, and recreation spaces.

The improvements are part of an ongoing partnership among MPS, the MPS Foundation, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, City of Milwaukee, Reflo and partners. Each year, five MPS schoolyards are chosen for redevelopment. The process to select 2023 projects is currently underway.

“Research indicates that green space and exposure to the environment during school hours can increase students’ learning capacity, attention span, social-emotional well-being, and desire to explore additional learning opportunities,” said Nathaniel Hawthorne Principal Shantee Williams. “Schoolyard redevelopment projects that support outdoor learning and recreation can help improve student experiences at school while also becoming a positive space for the surrounding community.”

At each site, multiple green infrastructure strategies to manage stormwater are engaged to reduce local flooding and keep more than 320,000 gallons of water out of Lake Michigan during large storm events. Students will learn how stormwater can be captured, filtered, and managed to keep pollutants out of rivers and Lake Michigan.

MPS is grateful to partners who made this work possible and are helping to make the Milwaukee community a healthier place to live and learn.