A Playground In Need

Like many playgrounds, ours is in need of a major makeover. This is the Clara Barton Elementary School playground. It has not changed since I went there and for many other generations of kids and adults. Years ago, it went up to grade 8, and when I went there, it went up to grade 6.


The pavement is hot in the sun, there is no shade. The only place to really play is in the kindergarten play area, but that is closed off to the bigger kids during recess, because it is a safety issue with the smaller children. I understand this. CBSPlaygroundBordentownNJ_DeirdreRyanPhotography2

The reason for the fence in the middle of the playground was to keep the much older kids from the kindergarten areas. But now, there’s really no need for it. There’s some sort of outdated play things here and there that the kids bang on for noise, but the the most part, they are ignored. The basketball court is used, and so is the climbing wall. The school brings out jumping ropes, balls, and other items for the kids to play with during recess. But recess these days even for a school that is for grades Pre-K to 3 is limited because of curriculum. That’s hard because everyone, including the teachers and staff want the kids to play.


The kids play on this after school because they can actually have fun on this structure. Even when they come over from the intermediate school across the street that is grade 4-5. They come over to play on this playground and the rest because I’m told and many of the other parents are told that recess is terrible over there. I’m not there during recess, so I’m only hearing this from several of my daughter’s friends including her.


Honestly, does this look like fun? And really, we all want the best, but playgrounds are really $$$$. A single swing set is around $20,000! The pavement needs to come up and re-done, I mean we’re talking a complete overhaul.

This is where the Friends of The Ecological Schoolyard at Clara Barton comes in, my committee. We are a committee of parents, faculty and community residents dedicated to the responsible and ecological redevelopment of the Clara Barton schoolyard. 

We started this while our children were in Clara Barton, some of my friends who are in the committee have children still there. But we are committed to getting this done. The playground here has been an issue for a long time. Money has been raised, but now we need more. What we have in our account isn’t enough and that is the sad and awful truth. Did I mention how much the swing set is? 

What we want is something that will be lasting and beautiful for generations to come. Something that has been going on for years across the nation and around the world. A playground that is not only safe for our children, but a place for them to learn, an environment of sensory and visual wonders. Not your usual playground of swings and slides.

We teamed up with Lolly Tai who wrote the the book Designing Outdoor Environments For Children: Landscaping School Yards, Gardens and Playgrounds decided that Clara Barton was going to be the school for her students graduate study at Temple. Their research, plans, and drawings for our school was put into a textbook. Some of the above photos of mine were published into her book. It was amazing working with them! To view the textbook click here.   I encourage you to please share!

Quoted from the publisher:

Asphalt to Green Space: Clara Barton Eco-Schoolyard: Clara Barton Elementary School Project was conducted by a Temple University Senior Landscape Architecture Studio during fall 2014. The project involved a comprehensive study of the school to transform the site from an asphalted schoolyard to an eco-friendly school by integrating principles of green infrastructure and best management practices. The goal was to create designs for an educational and active environment for children, teachers, and the community.”

So this past spring, we purchased two Chinese Elm trees, our little city dug up the black top for us in the spots we wanted. They had to go through many layers before hitting dirt 😉  The day arrived and we had to find a way to get water for the trees, here are my friends, Karen and Harry with a boy who lives across the street getting it set up.

ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton1 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton2 This is Mikki, she is also a member of our Tree Planting Committee here in town, and among other many talents(an artists, and skilled gardner), knows a lot about planting these. ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton3 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton4

Another friend, Debbie, told the many children volunteers what needed to be done, and they started to dig.ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton5 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton6 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton7 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton8 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton9 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton10 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton11 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton12 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton13 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton15 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton16 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton18 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton19 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton20 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton21 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton22 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton23 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton24 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton25 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton26 That’s my husband, David with my other camera, shooting video. ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton26 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton27 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton27 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton28 ClaraBartonElementarySchoolTreePlantingDeirdreRyanPhotographyFriendsofTheEcologicalSchoolyardatClaraBarton29

Clara Barton Ecological PlayYard – Tree Planting from David W. Ryan on Vimeo.

Friends of The Ecological Schoolyard at Clara Barton

Photo by Caroline Conroy. This is me and my daughter at this year’s past Green Fair. As you can see, we have the plans for the playground, we’re all very excited! And best of all we’re now 501C3!

This past summer, local artists, past and current students, friends, including myself, worked with artist, Stephanie Neuhaus, on her mural that is being painted on the back wall of Clara Barton’s school. It was hot, but we had a lot of fun being together, working on this beautiful project for the school and the community.

Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography1 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography3 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography4 9 10 11 12 16 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography5 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography6 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography7

That’s my husband, David with my other camera, shooting video. Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography8

Here is Stephanie showing local artist, Al Barker what to do. Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography9 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography10

Hi Vikki!

Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography11 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography12 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography13 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography14 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography14 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography15 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography16 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography18 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography18

My husband got some shots of me painting. I actually used to paint a lot back in the day, mostly in oils. Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography19 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography20

Stephanie’s husband, Mike, a local fine art photographer, taking some photos of us.

Clara Barton Elementary School Mural Painting Volunteers-Photo By Mike Neuhaus At the end of the day, we got together for a group photo, thanks Mike for the image!


Here is the next time we all got together, this time we used my camera for the group shot. Gotta love a self timer! Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography23 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography24

Each of us were assigned a colour that was a number on the wall to paint. Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography25 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography26 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography28 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography29 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography30 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography31

I love her heart shaped sunglasses! Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography32 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography33 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography34 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography35 Mural_ClaraBartonElementaryPlaygroundProject_DeirdreRyanPhotography36

The mural is not finished yet. What we all did was just blocked out the main colours with what Stephanie told us to do. Then she went back, and cleaned up the lines, and is still working on it. Adding in shading, more details, and other extras that as an artist only she knows what is needed.

What we now is MONEY and LOTS of it.  Our committee is 501C3, so we are in the process of applying for grants, BUT we still need help. Contact me via this site or via our FB Page.

Thanks everyone, and subscribe to my blog to keep updated 🙂