Principal Pennington (second row, left) joined area City Council Member Brenda Stardig (second row, right) and several Woodview parents for the official announcement.
The schools were chosen from areas designated as “park deserts” in Harris County.
Woodview was one of nine elementaries to win funding Sept. 21 from the Houston Endowment and Kinder Foundation. The Houston-based philanthropies announced a three-year gift of $5 million to either build or “refresh” SPARK Parks. The City of Houston will contribute about $500,000 through available federal funds.
The parks will serve as dual purpose playgrounds and parks. A “park desert” is defined as an area that is more than one-half mile or a 10-minute walk from an existing county or school park.
The SPARK park group is a 33-year-old nonprofit operation dedicated solely to the improvement of school playgrounds for student and public uses. SPARK’s founder was former City Council member Eleanor Tinsley, who served the Spring Branch-Memorial area for many years.
Woodview Elementary’s parents, community and partners worked hard to raise the initial $5,000 seed money needed to jump start full project funding.
“This is huge for Woodview,” said Principal Pamela Pennington. “We have been working hard for over a year to secure funding for our Spark Park. Our students, our staff, our PTA Sister School – Hunters Creek Elementary, our parents, and our community have all worked to raise money for this much needed park.”
She said many Woodview students live with limited access to nearby green space, making park funding an “extremely important” goal for the school’s community.
“Our goal is to develop a safe and beautiful space for students to play and exercise. We want to partner with our community so that our families have a place to gather after school and on the weekends for family gatherings or track and field activities, ball games, and to celebrate birthday parties and family events,” the principal said.
A Trust for Public Land evaluation led to the final ratings that resulted in selection of Woodview Elementary as one of the best spots for a new community park.
“Every single child in greater Houston should be able to walk to a park, to swing, to slide down a slide, to chase a soccer ball,” said Houston Endowment President Ann Stern during the Sept. 21 luncheon.
“Every neighborhood should have a place where residents and families and people can come connect, get a chance to know each other, to be in a place that contributes to the pride and character of their neighborhood,” she also said.
Principal Pennington joined area City Council Member Brenda Stardig and several Woodview parents for the official announcement.