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.
Drawing my own map was a little odd for me, because I live on the boarder of East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. I started with writing that a place with nice colors was my school because they just repainted it which is nice. The important thing for me to include in my map was a place that had a deep personal meaning for me which was my local YMCA.
Name a place, corner or location in your neighborhood that you want to see changed (and why)
South Indiana Street has a lot of taco vendors, the customers there tend to make a mess. There are also a lot of potholes and sometimes the animals that get hit there take a while to be removed. Also the fact that people hit animals is sad.
Where is a place with great colors (what are they?)
Theodore Roosevelt High School, they just got a new paint job. It is nice to see new Red and Yellow/gold-ish colors.
Name a place that has a deep personal meaning to you (and why.)
The Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA. I've had so many good adventures there. They helped me with so many things.
A place at school you like to spend time at (and why?)
My school. It's pretty peaceful at times. It is really nice on rainy days. That is why I love late fall and winter.
Name a place that has "history"?
My house, apparently the previous owners can still be heard. The house was made in the 1970s-ish.
Where is a great place to hang out (why, with whom?)
Little Tokyo, I know a good Starbucks there. Nice place, and I would bring my family, and most of my friends from the Youth Institute and Youth & Government programs.
Name a place where people come together to participate in a shared activity.
El Mariachi Plaza, it's a nice place. There are vendors there on Saturdays.
Who is a person that defines your neighborhood for you (and why?)
I have different people who I think define my neighborhood: my Mother, my Brother and four good friends.
Name a place or person that you are afraid to meet, cross paths with, relate to (and why.)
Hollenbeck Park, it's pretty bad. I know this because for Cross Country practice, we had to run the race loops there.
Where is a great place to eat in your neighborhood?
I'd say the Arctic Hotspot, which is across the street from my school. I am not a fan of Greek salads, however, their salads are really good and the drinks are really good as well. It has a nice feeling to it.