Research shows that outdoor time benefits students’ well-being in myriad ways, yet some Title 1 schools lack adequate equipment to facilitate outdoor learning, dining and play. Building industry leaders set out to beautify Austin schools by partnering on the Green Apple Central Texas 2023 service project hosted by USGBC Texas. The volunteer-driven event held on October 14 drew approximately 40 volunteers to Lively Middle School to build and paint picnic tables to be installed at Lively and two other Austin ISD campuses, Odom Elementary School and Paredes Middle School.
“We are deeply grateful to USGBC Texas and school administrators, community partners, and donors for turning this project into such a beneficial and heart-warming event,” said Austin ISD Sustainability Director Darien Clary. “It was touching to see how many student volunteers showed up, and how they took such pride in making the tables and bringing them to life with thoughtfully selected paint colors.”
Community and corporate partners assisting with the effort included Perkins & Will, Lowe’s, Kelly-Moore Paints, Texas Disposal Systems, American Constructors, Clean Power Marketing Group, Legacy Lighting, and ERT Lighting, whose monetary and in-kind donations enabled the construction of 28 wooden picnic tables.
The build day brought out the kid in everyone—and that was by design, if you ask the color expert at Kelly-Moore Paints who created a custom color palette focused on colors to inspire wonder, growth and innovation in young minds.
“In the spirit of this project and based on our color trend forecasting for 2024 and 2025, we focused our attention on the stories of exploration and renewability that are emerging, especially from our newest generation of creators—kids,” said Kelly-Moore Director, Brand and Creative, Shannon Kaye. “The color patterns we selected have an ethereal reflective quality expressing a more expansive understanding of what is possible in the future.”
The palette included earthy hues for the calming effects of reassurance and relaxation, and effervescent hues to convey interconnectedness and hopefulness while encouraging creativity. An additional creative boost came in the form of the annular solar eclipse, which began in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. PDT and ended in Texas at 12:03 p.m.
“The eclipse added even more unforgettable moments,” said Clary. “Getting to experience the eclipse together was absolutely brilliant!”
USGBC Central Texas Board Member Shivani Langer, a Perkins & Will architect who organized the event, observed:
As designers of educational facilities and encouraging health and wellness strategies in all school buildings, we always design exterior spaces that facilitate outdoor activities and use. Yet many schools do not have the opportunity to get a remodel or redesign, and cannot use outdoor spaces due to lack of outdoor furniture or infrastructure. This picnic tables fundraising and volunteering project has been hugely successful in the last two years in providing what is needed to the schools that need it the most. I am humbled by how many corporate partners came alongside others in the sustainability community, including Austin ISD leaders and parents to make this volunteer day such a success.
“We are immensely grateful to our members and sponsors who generously give back to the Austin community and to the companies that supported Green Apple Central Texas 2023,” said Jonathan Kraatz, executive director of USGBC Texas. “Providing the means to positively impact the learning environment of students directly helps fulfill our Chapter’s mission and our commitment to ensuring a better built environment for Texas, today and tomorrow.”