POSTED ON BEHALF OF MARIA SCHNEIDER
Saturday September 29th of this year, several AU students and a GW student volunteered to work with 70 DC kids on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland for the day. The day was divided into different workshops: canoeing/kayaking, forestry, marine life, and art with nature. This day-long retreat was the kick-of event for the What’s Good in My Hood? Initiative that will take place at several community centers across the city, those being: Lafayette, Keilworth-Parkside, Harrison, Macomb, Trinidad, Benning Stoddert, Bald Eagle, Ferebee-Hope Recreation Centers, Palisades Community Center and Chevy Chase Playground. Click here for more information!
I was first introduced to the What’s Good in My Hood? program at the beginning of September when I was put in contact with Sean Miller, an American University adjunct faculty who teaches a course titles DC Healthy Schools in the School of Teaching and Health. Sean along with several staff at the Department of Parks and Recreation staff in DC have started this program in the District of Columbia through various recreation centers across the city to increase environmental awareness, love of the outdoors, and to empower elementary and middle school youth to be active within their own communities.
This DC program is similar to the New York Restoration Project’s What’s Good in My Hood? program that DC native Akiima Price talks about in this short introductory video.
The What’s Good… program is one that can be implemented with students of various ages ranging from young elementary school through high school. Though the current program is aimed at kids ages 9-13, it could be altered easily to accommodate older or younger youth with slightly different projects, and/or more complex themes and discussions. The New York Restoration Project’s What’s Good in My Hood? Workbook can be found here and downloaded for free to bring the innovative program to any urban community through a Peace Education initiative, school program, or community organized one as well!
Through the program students would gain valuable knowledge about the unique aspects of their own communities, natural and not-so-natural resources, living versus non-living parts of where they live, where they get their food and water, and most importantly how to stay involved, voice concerns, and take action for change within their own neighborhoods through community advocacy and writing to local, state, and national legislators.
The What’s Good in My Hood? program most fully supports the Community Building and the Exploring Approaches to Peace pillars of Peace Education. Community Building is key, because not only are program participants getting to know one another throughout the process, but they are exploring their own community spaces, and working together to create more accountable and responsible community members. Students explore approaches to peace in the way that they take action collectively through advocacy and various student-led initiatives towards the end of the program process in step five that Akiima Price describes in the video—Don’t Shout, Speak Out.