BSI schoolyards are developed through a participatory planning process, with a philosophy that schoolyards are both a school and neighborhood resource for recreation, learning and community life. Our planning process begins with a grant from the Boston Schoolyard Funders Collaborative and brings together a schoolyard committee of teachers, principals, community partners, neighbors and other members of the school community. With the help of a landscape architect and project manager (both provided by the City of Boston), and BSI staff, this group is the driving force in the design/development process. In addition to guiding the design of new schoolyard spaces, the process builds a sense of ownership among committee members that will assist in efforts to sustain stewardship and educational programming.
Our goal is to design schoolyards that meet the needs of the school and community while continually our schoolyard and outdoor classroom model. In the process we hope to create an effective Schoolyard Friends Group that supports the schoolyard long past the planning phase. Over the years, we have developed materials that help us work toward those goals: a BSI Design Workbook provides ideas, guidance and tools for making decisions on potential elements in schoolyards and Outdoor Classrooms, and the BSI Planning Workbook is a resource for engaging the schoolyard community in the schoolyard planning process.