Urban areas worldwide are grappling with tough issues: While traffic, pollution and crime are on the increase, access to “child-friendly” spaces is deteriorating.
Efforts to involve children and youth in the visioning of child-friendly urban spaces tend to be limited in scope and impact—even though several initiatives testify to the benefits of such participation. PLACES aims to change that by locating community research within schools, which offer the capacity for long-term partnerships. The Children, Youth and Environments Center for Research and Design is partnering with local planners and school teachers to develop PLACES projects that integrate education and community development and that provide experiential learning opportunities. These, in turn, build citizenship, community engagement, local democratic practice and environmental knowledge.
School-based PLACES projects are planned for cities across the globe, from the U.S. to Kenya. Each will engage young people in the development of quality-of-life indicators relevant to local contexts.
Once these indicators are identified, the project participants will collect, analyze, present data and monitor changes. Every project will take a youth-led approach, identifying indicators from the “bottom-up”—from students’ perspectives—while establishing a template for sharing and comparing information across contexts and over time. Through action research and active monitoring and reporting, students will help bring about meaningful improvements in their communities.
CYE is developing a global network of participating schools that will be supported by a web-based, open-source clearinghouse of good practices and a forum to foster information exchange and student interaction.
To learn more about PLACES, or to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-735-5199.