Cleveland’s Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary addresses playspace inequity with new multi-sport court

Today, youth at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary in Cleveland are celebrating their new place to play. For months, the Famicos Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, MyCom, City of Cleveland, Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary, General Motors and KABOOM!, the nonprofit organization focused on ending playspace inequity, have been working together to increase access to playspaces for local kids with the creation of a new, multi-sport court that was installed this week. The new multi-sport court provides an opportunity for older kids and teens to be active with their peers, play a variety of sports and have a quality, safe place to play that is close to where they live and learn.

The multi-sport court project is part of a holistic community revitalization strategy led by the Famicos Foundation, focusing on the Glenville neighborhood, which is adjacent to Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary. Famicos formally launched the revitalization effort with the development of the MyGlenville Plan in 2015. The plan leverages the Purpose Built Communities’ model, characterized by intentional planning and investments around the strategic pillars of education, housing, and community wellness. Their long-term goal is to create healthy, mixed-income and vibrant neighborhoods of choice with amenities that retain current residents while attracting new ones. The new multi-sport court will function as one of the critical resources for young residents.

In April, kids and teens from the surrounding community participated in a design process where they gave their input to the layout of the multi-sport court. The new multi-sport court will provide hundreds of kids and their families in Cleveland with an incredible place to play basketball, soccer, volleyball and more.

KABOOM! knows that play is essential to the physical, social, and emotional health of every child. However, far too many children and communities lack access to parks and playspaces due to historic disinvestment, which disproportionately affects communities of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these inequities. Many older children and teens navigate challenges that force them to grow up too fast. These dynamics underscore the need to provide youth with positive outlets where they can gather and enjoy being active with friends.

Through this partnership, the Famicos Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, MyCom, City of Cleveland, Mary Bethune Elementary, General Motors and KABOOM! are helping to safeguard childhood by providing engaging activity options for teens that often do not exist, especially in communities that have experienced disinvestment. This focus on teens demonstrates to them that they matter and are supported by caring adults who want to ensure they have access to a variety of play opportunities and enjoy being kids for a bit longer.

“These strategic relationships provide in-school and out-of-school opportunities for students to develop interests and explore the world in their own backyard,” boasts Principal Melanie Nakonachny. “We are a school that promotes and appreciates diversity of students and strives to tailor to meet their unique needs and interest.”

“The city of Cleveland is so important to the men and women of General Motors, and we’re thrilled to support its young residents and families with this multi-sport court,” said Terry Rhadigan, Executive Director of Corporate Giving at General Motors. “And we’d like to thank our terrific partners in this ‘labor of love’ who worked together to provide a safe play space for the community.”

To ensure that playspaces can open safely in every community, KABOOM! has issued important playground guidance that all communities, playground owner/operators and caregivers can follow. The guidance can be viewed or downloaded at kaboom.org/reopen. Pending weather and construction timelines, the new multi-sport court at Moulton Ave and E. 120th Street in Cleveland will open for use on August 2. Free Wi-Fi will be available for all on site.

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About The Famicos Foundation
Famicos Foundation is one of Cleveland’s largest and most trusted Community Development Corporations. Famicos’ mission is to improve the quality of life in greater Cleveland through neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing, and integrated social services. Famicos’ vision is to empower residents to create an engaged, vibrant, diverse, healthy neighborhood, where residents choose to stay, invest, and help shape a “neighborhood of choice.” Sister Henrietta Gorris founded Famicos Foundation in 1969 to provide food, clothing, and shelter to Cleveland families. Today, Famicos continues to help Cleveland families improve their lives, homes, and neighborhoods. Famicos owns and manages affordable housing units for those most in need—seniors, low wage-earning families, the chronically homeless, and people with disabilities. In addition, Famicos acts as an anchor for the Glenville, Hough, and St. Clair-Superior neighborhoods, providing case management, food distribution, health screenings, utility assistance, foreclosure prevention education, home repair, and youth development. Equity is at the forefront of Famicos’ work. As a Black-led organization serving in Black neighborhoods, Famicos’ programming helps residents reverse the impacts of systemic racism by giving them the resources they need not just to survive, but to thrive. To learn more about the vital work of this organization, visit Famicos online, or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.