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OAKLAND SCHOOLYARDS INITIATIVE: Everybody Plays!

As we have revitalized schoolyards from barren and dangerous places into active, green and healthy spaces, we have failed to develop and build play structures that meet the needs of all of our schoolchildren. Design Students from the California College of the Arts are collaborating with Architecture for Humanity in the development of a unique and special play structure. Beginning this year, the Sankofa Academy in Oakland will teach a total of 150 students of which 20-30 children have autism. The design for this play structure will facilitate physical interaction between all of the students and will address a wide variety of abilities and unique needs. Students from CCA will be encouraged to synthesize information from a wide variety of disciplines, develop a greater understanding of the needs of autistic spectrum children, and develop an expanded understanding of physical play and the body. Their design challenge will be to harness this new found information and design prototypes for play environments/structures/objects that will encourage interaction between children with autism and their peers. This empathic design process will offer the students a rare and special hands-on opportunity to engage with children, parents, teachers and administrators; in addition to practicing architects and designers, experts and specialists in child development and autism who will guide the design process. The $25,000 grant will fund final design and construction of the integrative play structure.

Who is the sponsoring organization?

Oakland Schoolyards Initiative. The Oakland Schoolyards Initiative has converted four bleak schoolyards into vital, green and fun places to learn and play. Four plans are in process. Sankofa Academy's plan was completed and approved by the School District. We are a collaborative of the East Bay Asian Youth Center, the Spanish Speaking Unity Council and the Oakland Unified School District. http://none

Where will the project be located?

Oakland, California, United States

Sankofa Academy . Sankofa Academy is located in North Oakland on a bleak four acre site. Three forlorn trees punctuate the broken asphalt of the current yard. The School District will repave the yard and introduce much greenery and amenities this year.

Do facilities at the location need to be constructed or upgraded?

Yes. School District will use contractors to re-pave and plant the yard according to the approved plan. The integrative play structure will be constructed by CCA students and community members with professional assistance

Are any further architectural or design services required?

Yes. We need to rethink the concept of schoolyard play structures with the help of Architecture for Humanity. Our schoolyard planning process is very participatory. Each of our plans is the result of the engagement of students, parents, teachers and neighbors. We have not been able to make a design breakthrough from the inadequate existing structures to an innovative model. A design team would become our partner in this necessary effort. Additional funding would assist us in constructing a prototype.

Would this project benefit from the assistance of construction professionals?

Yes. We will need construction professionals to oversee and manage the installation of the play structure by volunteers.