The newest Youth Voices participants from the Los Angeles River School were asked to bring an object to class that links them to their community. Over the course of two days the students brought in a variety of items and presented them to the class. The exercise provides an interesting way to get to know the students because as they share information about their object they are also providing insight into their own lives -- where they live, how they get around, their likes, dislikes, and more. Students are not only sharing the links to their neighborhood, they're also seeing how they are connected to each other.
As much fun as it is to get acquainted with all the participants, the main goal of the activity for the the students is to begin examining their relationship with their neighborhood and take a critical look at their community. Often their object is tied to positive aspects of their community -- the basketball they use to play with neighbors at the park, the leaves from the trees along their walk to school, and a frog decoration from their grandfather's front yard. But some lead to questions about their community; the resources available, the environment, safety and other concerns that are bound to resurface as the students continue their exploration and investigation of their neighborhood, ultimately leading them to ask themselves, what would I do to improve my community.
Below are examples of what the students shared and some of their comments. For their full entries go to the Youth Voices Meet Me blog.
"My library card connects me to my neighborhood because I have memories of going there with my sister when my mom would go to her job." - Emmanuel Moyaho
"My camera connects me to my community because I like walking around and taking pictures of things that catch my attention." - Adriana Felix
"My cross country shirt connects me to my neighborhood. I run a lot, and I run at the river, which is really close to me." - Arturo Gonzalez
"The GLASSELLLAND sign connects me to my community, I live in Glassell Park and I enjoy going up there." - Melissa Barrera