Community integration in low income areas by creating green schoolyards for use by all citizens
The City of Amsterdam is using the Amsterdam Schoolyard Incentive (Amsterdamse Impuls Schoolpleinen - AIS) to make schoolyards as accessible as possible outside of regular school hours to create more playgrounds in the city, and to provide schoolchildren with a green space to play in. The AIS makes it possible to design or redesign schoolyards to render them suitable places for getting more exercise; learning about and playing in nature; serving as a safe and pleasant place to interact, and providing better drainage for rainwater. Creating playgrounds where pupils are challenged to play, embark on an adventure with one another and as a result get more physical exercise. School boards, district committees and Amsterdam's College of Mayors and Alderpersons have signed a covenant pledging their support for this Incentive through collaboration agreements.
The AIS is an annual subsidy scheme in which school boards and district committees can apply for funding to design or redesign their schoolyard. They will also receive support from a team of experts at the City of Amsterdam in planning their new schoolyards. The proposals submitted are reviewed by an independent Advisory Committee.
There are currently 24 schoolyards which have been, or are in the process of being, redeveloped through this scheme.
The Amsterdam Schoolyard Incentive is €3.5 million for 2016-2018;
Education Coalition Fund €2.5 million and Groengelden (Green Fund) €1 million
Applicants may request up to €70,000 contribution to the design/redesign
Co-financing is a precondition with the guideline of 80:20 (City:Applicant)
Evidence of success
77.000 m2 green, attractive and safe playgrounds established with AIS
30.840 m2 extra (semi) public playgrounds
19.200 m2 extra green space added to the city
20.240 m2 less pavement in the city
50 non-smoking playgrounds
Van Koetsveld school reports children are noticeably calmer and more focused after outdoor play and direct contact with nature provides an additional learning experience
There are more schools interested to participate than the scheme allows. For example, in 2017 40 schools applied while there were only funds for 20 schoolyards. Maintenance of the schoolyards is a challenge, especially during hot summers
Potential for learning or transfer
All cities have schools and schoolyards, often with concrete or hard surfaces used exclusively for school activities and the potential to convert these inaccessible places into community and environmental assets can be achieved by adopting by municipalities by adopting a similar approach. To help with this the Amsterdam Schoolyard Incentive has developed a transferable checklist to advise cities on what to look for to improve schoolyards, what are the challenges and what are the multi-benefits such as durability, flooding problems, mobility, education, green maintenance, participation etc.
The ASI has also developed a roadmap to help and advise on the reorganization of a schoolyard and what is involved in order to help applicants to develop their project.
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