North Philadelphia community teams up to bring school yard back to life

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Dozens of volunteers and several organizations are taking the next steps to transform the schoolyard of a North Philadelphia school by introducing soccer to the community.

Volunteers spent most the day Saturday preparing the area behind Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey School for the next phase of its transformation.

Many in the community have been working for several years to give the area off of W. Diamond Street next to Temple University a facelift.

It all began with the addition of a new playground and is now followed by preparation for a multi-purpose soccer field, which will be complete in a couple of weeks.

"It's going to bring a lot of positive vibes to the community," said North Philadelphia resident Dorales Burns. "Sports is a really good form of discipline, especially for little boys, who can get really busy and it's a great motivator for them."

The goal is for it all to be built by the community, for the community.

"This has been a 5 year effort that is resulting this year in a $1.1 million redevelopment," said Lois Brink of The Big SandBox. "Economic development is more than just new buildings and more offices. It's about creating spaces that the community and the children can be proud of."

Brink said new fencing has already been installed and a company will soon bring in more than two dozen landscaping trees to add to the area.

Once fully completed, the revitalized schoolyard will include a soccer field, two upgraded NBA size courts, an outdoor classroom area, a peace garden, art installations, new equipment, and asphalt maze.

"This will produce more community engagement with more participation in sports. A different sports life besides basketball, we have soccer too," said Danita Bates, Duckrey youth community outreach coordinator.

Part of the hope is that the introduction of a global sport like soccer will help unlock a new source of inspiration.

"When people say this is not a soccer community, no one ever came here and said here's the sport. It happens in the suburbs and I think it should happen in the city as well," said King Saah of Street Soccer USA.

Tina Sloan Green of Black Women in Sport Foundation said, "It makes it believable. Often times when you don't see anybody that looks like you doing it, you don't believe it."

There'll be several ribbon cuttings through the end of the year along with the grand opening of the soccer field on Oct. 24.
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