During our community tour, students identified 4 clear priorities that they would like Live Well Lauderhill to focus on to improve student access to opportunity in Lauderhill. Below are the observation notes from Mark Fenton, national healthy community expert, after his work with students and community leaders during the tour:
Lauderhill Middle School – Walkabout and discussion, Nov 18, 2011
Mark Fenton’s observations
1. These students know a great deal about there community, and how to build a healthier environment.
2. They have a tremendous sense of ownership, responsibility, and community pride. We can only hope that adults will follow their lead and become equally thoughtful stewards
3. There were some very concrete ideas and recommendations, and I picked up at least four themes or areas for concentrated on-going work.
- The overpath. Clearly there are both design and safety issues. Kids feel it could be cleaned up, lighted, perhaps emergency call boxes added. It could also have other design improvements that might be enhanced by partnering with the artists in the studio. These could include shade awnings and/or a rain cover, more intriguing or aesthetic lighting – perhaps solar powered, to reduce environmental impact. And perhaps signs or graphics for the vehicles passing below on the turnpike, to let them know they are passing through the proud Lauderhill community.
- Healthy food options. One of the stores in the artist studio strip mall will soon be empty. The students can work with the community leaders and studio patrons to get a healthy food store, perhaps in the form of a coop, launched in that slot. The artists in residence seemed very intrigued by this idea after hearing the kids talk about the lack of healthy food offerings in the neighborhood.
- School menu and school store offerings. Two parts here: Getting involved in improving the school menu, and reducing the unhealthy offerings at the school store and replacing these with healthier choices. Our wild idea–have the student actually work with food service staff to prepare the menu for a sample ‘healthy eating’ week.
- Transit center and mall area redesign. This includes everything from redesigning the transit center to be pedestrian and bicycle friendly, to dramatically improving the intersection(s) and sidewalk connections. Students should work to get youth representation on the redesign committee or working group, and they should host adults in a walkabout (or several) in the area.