De Parel primary school in Mechelen received the Green Oase label from the province of Antwerp on Thursday. With the financial support of the province, part of the school’s playground was paved. The stone tiles made way for trees, hedges and a herb container that is also used during lessons.
Schools that choose to soften their concrete playground and create more space for greenery and natural play elements will receive a financial boost from the province of Antwerp. More than 200 schools have already applied for such a subsidy. De Parel primary school in Mechelen also received an amount of 5,000 euros for the renovation of the department’s playground in Sint-Jan-Berchmansstraat.
“At the end of 2022 we still had a completely stone playground,” says director Hilde Dewulf of De Parel. “But with combined efforts we managed to depave more than seventy square meters in one weekend. The working group, teachers and parents joined forces for this. And although it froze the stones out of the ground, we still managed to surprise the students with a renovated playground.”
Among other things, a play kitchen called ‘Het Houten Pareltje’ was created where children can let their imagination run wild. In addition, a planting area with a tree was created and a beech hedge was planted around the football field. A herb planter was also created for use during lessons and the children also planted pumpkin plants. “The pumpkins were used to make delicious soup for the entire school,” says De Wulf.
“Thanks to the Green Oasis project, almost 100,000 children can already enjoy a greener playground,” says Deputy for Environment and Nature Jan De Haes (N-VA). “The first schools have now completed their projects and, like De Parel, have received the Groene Oase label. As a provincial government, we want to focus strongly on greener playgrounds, because playing in nature makes for healthier children.”
Although they now have the label, De Parel wants to continue softening and greening in the future. “Because it also provides much more fun and therefore happier students and teachers,” says the director.