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Engaging Youth in community-planning through the Young Urbanist Summer Camp!

October 14, 2014

From August 25th to the 27th, TCAT brought participatory urban planning to local youth from Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park in the form of the Young Urbanist Summer Camp! As part of the Active Neighbourhoods Canada project, this camp transformed a room at the Flemingdon Health Centre into an urban design studio where kids aged 10-13 worked collaboratively with local teen facilitators aged 14-20. Together, they envisioned and experimented with how they could change the design of their neighbourhood to improve safety and foster active transportation. Using guided walks, walk-auditing tools, map making and model building, our campers took their ideas for transportation, public space and the environment and translated them into drawings, site plans and 3D models of a specific high-volume intersection at Overlea Blvd and Don Mills Rd. As part of the design problem presented to them at the onset, each camper was tasked with how best to improve the safety of the many students who walk or cycle through this area and also how they might improve an existing connection to the Don Valley Ravine system nearby. The result: three fun-filled days of hands-on activities and an imaginative vision for the future of their neighbourhood.

Part of the focus of Active Neighbourhoods Canada is to engage individuals or groups often left out of City planning processes that affect their local communities. This summer camp was an opportunity to empower, educate and involve local youth to share their knowledge of the community and imagine how changes to urban design could create safe environments for local walking and cycling. Often pedestrians themselves, these youth represent vulnerable road users who are placed at-risk in the current built form which prioritizes car traffic. Our Active Neighbourhoods Canada work to bridge the gap in planning and community needs relies on empowering their voice to be part of this important dialogue and to create a collaborative portrait of the neighbourhood’s active transportation needs. This camp was just one of the ways we are working together with local residents to engage community-lead plann