Looking to foster community connections and spirit in your OST program? Looking to incorporate physical activity, social studies, and writing in your PBL projects? If you are, then community mapping projects are what you are looking for!
Community mapping projects are projects that allow youth to discover what is located in their very own community, make connections with existing resources like businesses, recreation facilities, and non-profit agencies and foster a lifelong responsibility of caring about where they live.
Throughout the country, agencies have also used community mapping projects to document safe routes to school from program participants. The project serves to unite project participants and encourages them to develop and use 21st Century Skills; youth have the opportunity to work in teams and brainstorm about ways to capitalize and build on their community resources, and collaborate with local businesses.
Academic subjects such as writing and social studies can easily be infused into the project. Youth can keep a journal to chronicle their experiences during the project, which can also be used to help the youth reflect after the project is complete. The history and architecture of a neighborhood can also be explored by the youth; youth can find out if there any historical markers or buildings that have significant histories and contact the local historical society for guidance. Youth can learn (and contact) who represents them politically and how their neighborhood’s demographics compares with other areas in their state. Community mapping projects are also a great way to integrate technology into program activities.
Aside from all the wonderful possible academic components of a good community mapping project, the children also have countless opportunities to be physical! From outdoor walks to frolicking in neighborhood parks and nature trails, the children will learn (and be able to map out) all the opportunities for physical activity that are located in their community!
So if you are looking to build a strong sense of community and pride in your OST program, consider a community mapping project. The sample Community Mapping project provided on our blog is a great place to start!
by: Kristin Walker