The schoolyard at JB Kelly School is a large (4 acre) space near the center of the Southwest Germantown community, an urban neighborhood with insufficient outdoor play and recreational space.  

This is what “greets” our neighborhood’s children each day.   Clearly the schoolyard offers no opportunity for “the work of the child” to take place and, once again, our children are stymied in their development. Kids pay more attention to academic tasks when they are given frequent, brief opportunities for free play (Pelligrini and Homes, 2006)

Play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex (Greenbough and Black, 1992)

Pretend play improves language skills (Fisher, 1999)

Play promotes creative problem solving (Pepler and Ross, 1981)

Math skills benefit from play (Wolfgang, Stannard and Jones, 2001)

Playful experiences are learning experiences (Lancy, 2008)

Our neighborhood’s school should be a place that stimulates children’s imagination and helps them build the cognitive skills necessary for the 21st Century. The Kelly School is lucky enough to have the space to create wonderful opportunities for children, in a community that needs a healthy gathering place for children and families.

With limited resources, the Kelly Green Project has been able to begin the transformation of the Kelly Schoolyard into a useful and enjoyable space. The school garden, the front yard meadow and a natural play space built by volunteers including the nearby Wissahickon Boys and Girls Club have helped realize a bigger vision for how this place could be fun and engaging. We have proved that it can help develop healthy interactions among young people and with adults.

The music and art teachers, joining in the vision of new possibilities on the schoolyard, dedicated a new “Pipe Organ” on the schoolyard this Spring, created with the entire 4th grade and support of parents and neighbors.

We look forward to a completely re-built schoolyard that is a benefit to both the school and the surrounding community, where there is currently no comfortable gathering place for children and families. Imagine with us the possibility if our vision could become a reality. Imagine the changes in children’s lives because they are allowed and encouraged to “do their work”: think creatively, cooperate with others, discover their place in the world.

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning” - Diane Ackerman