by Maureen Maier
The Children’s Park on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, directly in front of J.S. Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences, is one of Chestnut Hill’s greatest treasures. Built by community volunteers over two decades ago, the playground and gardens are enjoyed by Jenks students, Chestnut Hill community members and visitors every single day of the year.
The regal wooden castle, green sliding boards, challenging monkey bars and shaded, wooded atmosphere are frequently pictured on “great playground” lists from across the region.
Visitors come and go, creating memories, documenting their children’s “firsts,” meeting new friends and enjoying a quiet moment in the bustle of the day. Likely, most of these visitors don’t stop to wonder how the park is maintained or funded, because it’s such a neighborhood staple.
As a community space, the Children’s Park is maintained by an all-volunteer board, and doesn’t receive fiscal or operational support from either the City of Philadelphia or the School District of Philadelphia. The Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District, the Friends of Jenks and the Jenks Home and School Association are all great supporters who recognize the importance of this community space for the school community and neighborhood. More than just a playground for young children, it serves as a community space that brings diverse groups of people together. But without attention and fiscal support, the playground and gardens will not serve their critical role of providing a community gathering space and enhancing Chestnut Hill’s status as a visitor destination.
During the month of April, volunteers will come together to give the Children’s Park its biannual facelift. Coinciding with the Citywide Cleanup on April 6, there will be a Spring Cleanup at the park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Additionally, volunteers will be at the playground all weekend to accept donations, big and small. The Friends of the Children’s Park, Friends of Jenks and the Jenks HSA seek your financial support and volunteer support. Please come out during the weekend, help remove weeds and trash, beautify the area, lay mulch and donate what you can.
In addition to projects that take place on April 6, long-term and ongoing improvements such as replacing and repairing equipment, staining wooden play structures and repainting fences and gates are needed. If you’d like to support these projects so that generations to come can enjoy this important space, please send a donation to Friends of Children’s Park in Chestnut Hill, P.O. Box 4355, Philadelphia, PA 19118. For those who participate in the United Way Giving Program, look for the Children’s Park, #4100.
You can also find more information about the history of the park and learn how to get involved with the Friends of the Children’s Park by reaching out to the organization’s leadership, Eden Kainer, at firstname.lastname@example.org