In November 2011, Mark Fenton, a national expert on built environments and healthy communities, accompanied the Live Well Lauderhill community team on a tour led by students. You can learn more about his work at http://markfenton.com We keep Mr. Fenton posted on what’s happening here and he sent the following feedback after the Going Places Photo Voice exhibit:
This is impressive beyond words, but in no way surprising. I really believe it is a phenomenal model for other communities to follow, and think we should be identifying some of the key lessons of your success. In no particular order, these come to mind:
1. The physical proximity of the Y and the school, so that it is basically a part of the school community and seamless to the kids.
2. Amazing leadership, or better MENTORSHIP and stewardship by the team at the Y. It is critical that the adult guidance be there for the kids insights and skills to reach fruition.
3. A ready outside partner, in this case (at least, if not more) the innovative community art studio and associated redevelopment effort.
4. A well defined challenge (or challenges). Rather than starting with a massive canvas–how do we change the entire community–you are tackling some very specific, well-defined and recognized opportunities for improvement. This means you will also be able to concretely measure progress.
I don’t list the kids as a unique lesson or asset, because in general I believe young people have a huge amount to offer as long as we put these other elements in place to open the door for them.
Thanks for your ongoing encouragement Mr. Fenton! We all especially loved the last line about young people and feel blessed everyday to work with such wonderful, hopeful students.