The first of three completed SPARK parks was unveiled with the help of 700 students at Sky Harbour Elementary School (Southwest ISD). SPARK is a school park program that turns public elementary and middle school property into neighborhood parks to be enjoyed by the community outside of school hours. The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by the Leader in Me student council, and included a special song performance by the drama club and a balloon release.
SPARK is an initiative of San Antonio Sports in partnership with the City of San Antonio and participating school districts. The UTSA College of Architecture also participates in the planning process. A licensee of SPARK Houston, San Antonio Sports has spearheaded the SPARK effort with schools throughout Bexar County. Five SPARK parks will be completed by the end of the year in four City Council districts, with eight completed by the end of the school year and five more by the end of summer vacation. There will be at least one SPARK in each City Council district.
SPARK brings together the resources of government, school districts, the private sector, colleges and universities, neighborhood groups, PTA’s and concerned citizens to make San Antonio a healthier place. “This is an ideal shared use agreement,” says Russ Bookbinder, President & CEO, San Antonio Sports. “It’s a cost-effective way to promote physical activity and provide our community parks and playgrounds, which we know to be a key in combating obesity.”
The schools, their students, families and surrounding community have design input as well as funding and maintenance obligations. A SPARK park is envisioned as a place of fun and creativity, reflecting a neighborhood’s characteristics in its design and art and giving residents a convenient, safe place to play and exercise.
Partners at Sky Harbour SPARK include: City of San Antonio Council District 4, City of San Antonio Council District 8, The Brown Foundation, Inc., Port San Antonio, Toyota (TODOS – Toyota Organization for the Development of Latinos), Bury+Partners Inc., City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation, H-E-B, Marmon Mok Architecture, Sky Harbour Elementary, Southwest ISD, and The University of Texas at San Antonio College of Architecture.
Left to right: Florinda Bernal, SWISD board member, Marina Avila, principal of Sky Harbour Elementary, Susan Blackwood, former executive director of San Antonio Sports, City Councilman Ray Saldana, George Block, chairman, San Antonio Sports Board of Directors.
About San Antonio Sports
San Antonio Sports is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform our community through the power of sport. San Antonio Sports bids on and hosts premier sporting events such as NCAA® championships, which have generated a local economic impact of more than $446 million. San Antonio Sports kids programs, including the i play! afterschool program, the Community Olympic Development Program, the Corner Store Go!Kids Challenge™ and ING Kids Rock marathon training program, annually touch the lives of more than 185,000 children. Additionally, San Antonio Sports serves as a catalyst for the development of quality recreational and athletic facilities in our community. To learn more, visit SanAntonioSports.org.