Photo Credit: iStockphoto

The Allergy Friendly Schoolyard is “the call” of all school-aged children and teachers who are allergy/asthma sufferers. Our goal is very simple: We would like to have “healthy” schoolyards for all school-aged children to engage them in allergy-friendly exercise and play.

In the past, schoolyards were frequently planted with shrubs and trees that triggered pollen allergies and allergic-asthma. The typical schoolyard is, unfortunately, all too often considerable allergenic than the surrounding landscape.

Today, more than ever, especially given the current epidemic of childhood obesity, children need to be encouraged to exercise and play vigorously. Schoolyards should be fun, safe, healthy places and always be allergy-friendly.

The person who started this initiative is the Canadian horticulturist and award-winning educator Peter Prakke. Peter has consulted with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board in Hamilton, Ontario – Canada to use the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale (OPALS®). The first school boards in Canada.

Peter has also been instrumental in getting “allergy-friendly” landscapes installed at new Bravery Parks across Canada. Each park is named after a Canadian soldier who was killed overseas fighting for our freedom.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

The website’s aim is to become a useful reference tool to start commitment conversations and help link different groups of parents, teachers, principals, school staff, landscapers, arborists, health professionals, and concerned citizens.

Please talk to the people in charge of planting shrubs and trees in your schoolyards. Strongly encourage them to include allergy-friendly plants in all future selections for your schoolyards.

We encourage schools to check OPALS rankings for all the plant selections. This is a numerical plant allergy scale where landscape plants are ranked 1 – 10. Plants ranked 1 are best, least allergenic, and 10 is worst, most allergenic. This scale is now used worldwide for allergy reduction.

We need your help. Working together, we can make great things happen! If you need help in similar projects in your area, click the Contact page to email Peter Prakke.

* Allergy Friendly Schoolyard has the full backing and enthusiastic endorsement of Thomas Leo Ogren, author of The Allergy-Friendly Gardening, from Random House Publishers.