Los Angeles, CA — There is something very special about being first. That is particularly true when the program is an innovative offering such as turning schools into parks that are open and accessible to nearby community residents on weekends and during vacations.

Trinity Street Elementary School near Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Los Angeles is the first in a 15-campus pilot program to be part of the Community-School Park program, and last weekend the seven-acre site received a face lift from parents, children and volunteers with People for Parks.

People for Parks is an organization that has joined forces with the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles School Board to develop the pilot program. Under the agreement, the two governmental entities will share the responsibility for funding, maintaining and supervising the school-park.

In order to give the school a more park-like atmosphere, volunteers planted desert willow trees, fan palms and olive trees in various locations around the school. This is the first step in the process that is expected to lead to the “park” opening for use by the public this fall, said a Parks for People spokesperson.

The conversion of the school’s playground into a green space is projected to cost about $1 million and will include the addition of landscaping, half-court basketball hoops, more after school activities, more play equipment as additional security to ensure that the school remains safe during the park’s open hours.

Parks for People chose Trinity because there is not a park within one-quarter mile of the school and it is located in a high-density, low-income community.

The park will be a supervised program, which is expected to create jobs, and many of these positions will be filled by youth learning how to operate and care for such green spaces.