Will Maddox for Advocate: Lakewood/East Dallas
May 31, 2018
Thanks to a partnership with Texas Trees Foundation and Dallas Park and Recreation Department, Dan D. Rogers Elementary is the recipient of 90 trees, a new playground, amphitheater and more.
Rogers received the “Cool Schools” grant from Texas Trees which helps provide trees, tree-related curriculum and other support to schools. Afghan pine, Bur Oak, Mexican Plum, Chinese Pistache and Cedar Elm are just some of the diverse flora planted at the school.School employees, students, volunteers and Texas Trees staff took part in a planting day that kicked off the makeover of the school’s green space.
Dallas is home to a number of “park deserts” according to Texas Trees Urban Forrester and Volunteer Coordinator Marc Beaudoing, which means that there is no park within a 10-minute walk. In working with the Dallas Park in Recreation Department, schools across Dallas will become public parks to combat these deserts. Prior to the change, the fields and playgrounds at schools were technically off limits to the public, but that is changing.
Beaudoing says that Texas Trees completed an impact study that found that schools were often some of the hottest places in the city, and the Cool Schools grants are a way to fight those hot spots by increasing canopy coverage. Two schools in Dallas received the grant last year, with six more on the way this year. Eventually, they hope to give 60-120 trees to all 151 elementary schools.
At Rogers, a school known for going the extra mile for its students, a new playground by Kaboom is on the way thanks to an anonymous donor. There is also a walking path, benches trees and a new blacktop, with a soccer field and amphitheater on the way. Texas Trees also provides curriculum that satisfies TEA’s standards to get the students outside and engaging with their new trees. The trees will provide shade, cool temperatures in the city, and even filter pollution as they grow.
With over half of our students who live in apartment, the kids love it” says Rogers principal Lisa Lovato. “It all came together. The neighborhood is already starting to use the walking path.”
“It is a really good program, and it is fun to be a part of something like that where you can give back to the community.” Beaudoing says of the future park. “Getting off their cell phones, it is a way to destress from all the technology in the world.”