From S.F. Gate by Kale Williams:
Housed in a squat brick building constructed nearly a century ago on the edge of the Tenderloin, Redding Elementary is like many urban schools.

At recess the sounds of children playing echo off the tall buildings that surround the main playground, which sits on top of a parking garage. Like nearly every other elementary school in San Francisco, the playground is covered entirely in asphalt.

Colin Schmidt is looking to change that. As the head of America Scores Bay Area - the local chapter of a national nonprofit that promotes sports and academics in public schools - Schmidt is on a mission to change the face of schools across the city by bringing turf soccer fields to play yards where only blacktop existed before.

"It's crazy to think that every elementary school in this city is all asphalt," Schmidt said. "It doesn't have to be this way."

Schmidt is eyeing 18 elementary schools in San Francisco where, he says, the installation of a synthetic turf field would benefit the students and surrounding community. Cleveland Elementary in the Excelsior District was his first target, where a field was installed last year, thrilling administrators. Redding is next.

More girls play

"I had been trying to get a soccer field in here since I started at Cleveland three years ago," said Principal Mark Sanchez. "The field has definitely encouraged more girls to play and roughly 80 percent of our school is Latino, so soccer was already a big deal for a lot of them."

Sanchez said that even though more students are playing soccer, injuries have gone down - and that he's "handing out fewer Band-Aids." The girls' team now has a waiting list to join, he said, a first for the school.

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