Creating personal maps is one of the first activities we do in Youth Voices. We asked the students at WELA YMCA Youth Institute to identify the places they spend time with friends, or places that have meaning to them as well as other key locations, people, and things. This begins the process of thinking more critically about their neighborhood along with initiating a creative freedom to express ideas that are true to their experiences. The maps provide an opportunity to put it down on paper and reflect on personal memories that start to paint a clearer picture of their community and what they would like to see it become.
I had a lot of fun drawing my map, it reminded me of all the places around my community that have a personal meaning to me and that I really enjoy going to. I started off my map by including a place that I would like to see changed. The most important thing that I included in my map was the places that I go to almost every day like Roosevelt High School and Hollenbeck Park, I can relate to those places in various ways since they are part of my daily life.
Name a place, corner or location in your neighborhood that you want to see changed (and why)
Something I would like to see changed would be an empty lot that's very close to where I live. The empty lot is located on Breed Street and 6th Street. I would really like to see it transformed into a community garden, I feel like we need more green around my neighborhood.
Where is a place with great colors (what are they?)
The murals all around Roosevelt High School that show the history around Boyle Heights are very colorful.
Name a place that has a deep personal meaning to you (and why.)
Hollenbeck Park, because that's the place I would spend a lot of my childhood playing.
A place at school you like to spend time at (and why?)
The Japanese Garden, it's so calm and peaceful.
Name a place that has "history?"
The Breed Street Shul when Boyle Heights use to be a Jewish community.
Where is a great place to hang out (why, with whom?)
Mariachi Plaza because it has entertainment and really good tortas de carne asada, I really like eating!
Name a place where people come together to participate in a shared activity.
The Hollenbeck Recreation Center, because there are a lot of different classes you can sign up for and activities you can be a part of.
Who is a person that defines your neighborhood for you (and why?)
Jose Huizar, because he comes to my school sometimes, just to take some neat pictures.
Name a place or person that you are afraid to meet, cross paths with, relate to (and why.)
Downtown LA seems frightening, especially at night!
Where is a great place to eat in your neighborhood?
24 Hours has some really delicious super nachos, they have a lot of different types of food including Mexican food like tacos and fries and burgers.
Are there other people, places or things you marked on your map?
I included some of the main streets I live by because I know them very well and I'm always passing by them.