Living across from Lowell Elementary School, Kim Neuschel looked out at a vast expanse of asphalt and pondered the potential of the playground and other outdoor space.
She was struck by how much of the students’ engagement in their outdoor environment was asphalt, which covered a good portion of playground along with pea gravel. The mini-forest — a green space in the middle of the C-shaped school building — couldn’t be used during recess because of a fence. And while a group of parents earlier had created a garden in the front yard, it was underutilized because there was no fence to separate it from busy Atwood Avenue.
“To me, fundamentally, it was the question of how do our kids access the outdoors and what does that outdoor space say to them,” said Neuschel, whose son, Finnegan Neuschel-Dornan, attended the school.