Planting roots: a SPARK Park Desert Initiative update

The SPARK Park at Clear Creek ISD’s Wedgewood Elementary.

In September 2016, the Kinder Foundation and Houston Endowment gifted SPARK, a Houston-based non-profit that develops neighborhood parks on school grounds, with $5 million to increase park equity in greater Houston over the next three years. Specifically, the grant was given to impact neighborhoods in ‘park deserts’ across the region by adding and/or transforming green spaces at 30 schools in 12 independent school districts.

Just over a year later, by the close of 2017, 22 of the 30 schools have been identified, and eight will have been dedicated. Those completed are Alief ISD’s Bush and Outley elementary schools; Clear Creek ISD’s Wedgewood Elementary; Katy ISD’s Winborn, Franz, and Memorial Parkway elementary schools; and Pasadena ISD’s Hancock and Jessup elementary schools. According to Pasadena Independent School District Superintendent DeeAnn Powell, “I strongly believe that this [SPARK park] will help build connections among residents in this neighborhood because parks bring people together in a healthy and fun atmosphere. It’s a win-win situation all around.” (Houston Chronicle)

Improvements amongst these school parks include upgraded playground equipment and the addition of walking trails, student-made murals which pay homage to the school’s mascot or core values, pavilions, upgraded soccer fields, and more. In each park, Trees for Houston planted new trees.

Below please find a slideshow featuring photos from the recent SPARK Park dedications.