Playground On Wheels Rolls Up to West Hills
by Allan Appel | Jun 28, 2012 8:34 am
Posted to: Arts & Entertainment, West Hills
It’s the latest back-to-the-future 1960s-ish New Haven summer craze: painting school buses. And it’s legal as long as you’re under 12 years old and lay off the lights and windows.
The city will even give you the paint and brushes. And a T-shirt and . . .
Actually, there are only two school buses in question.The city intends to paint them over. Again and again and again.
That was part of the fun for about 40 kids at the McConaughy Terrace public housing development on South Genesee Street in West Hills Wednesday afternoon as the city rolled out its latest recreational idea: two retired school vans retrofitted as “mobile playgrounds” with arts and crafts supplies, nets, ropes, and balls.
And lots of paint and brushes for hand-printing and message-writing for Celentano 5th-grader Antonio Allen, whose favorite color is obviously blue.
The rules: no paint on lights or windows, and words and tags acceptable as long as they are nice.
The event was a hit with the littlest artist, five-month-old Christopher Miles, whose red-painted foot left an imprint on the hood.
It was a hit as well with the oldest, 8th-grader Fred Peterson. He said he has a passion for graffiti.
He was the tallest kid among the painters—he alone could reach the panel above the windows with deep blue paint, with which he wrote “Method.” That was to honor his friend Ginger who told him there is always a method or path through life.
Click here on the parks department’s website for a mobile playground schedule. At each site, the buses can be painted over and over again.
The idea is to bring playgrounds to kids in areas under-served by existing facilities. Or as Deputy Director of Recreation for the Department of Parks, Recreation & Trees Bill Dixon put it: “Most of the kids [in New Haven] don’t go to camp. Why not bring camp to the neighborhoods?”
No figures were immediately available on how many New Haven kids attend summer camp and summer schools. City spokeswoman Elizabeth Benton said that 5,000 kid are participating in summer programs sponsored by the schools alone. Many are not all-day; they let the kids out before the mobile playgrounds arrive.
The project was hatched two years ago. Parks commissioners decided to devote some of the private money donated for recreation to bring camp, as it were, to kids who don’t go to camp.
They set aside $10,000 for arts, crafts, and sports supplies. Then First Student, the bus company that serves the schools, donated one 15-foot, 15-seater bus. The department bought the other for $2,500.
On Monday the buses began rolling into two neighborhoods at a time, arriving at 4 p.m. and leaving at 8. Even many kids who go to camp or summer school are looking for summer action after 4, said Dixon. City Recreational Supervisor Felicia Shashinka said 60 to 75 kids at two different sites each night have been coming out for the fun.
“No books or board games or electronics [are on the buses]. We want them [the kids] to be active,” said Shashinka.
“It’s a good idea that some people show they care,” said little Christopher Miles’ mom, Sonjae Gallimore, after her son foot-printed the hood water-based red. “Then they they care about themselves, and other people.”
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Saw this in today’s Register and hoped that NHI would cover it as well. What a fabulous idea. Thank you, New Haven Parks, for thinking creatively and once again doing a lot for New Haven with surprisingly little support.
posted by: BenBerkowitz on June 28, 2012 11:42am
This is awesome. Nice work!