Seventh Graders Picture a Safer, Livelier School Zone

Asking kids how they would re-design their streets is a revealing exercise. Students concerned about sustainability have a lot to say about their built environment, and they say it with conviction.

This May and June, Livable Streets Education led a six-week project with seventh graders from the Mott Hall II school, a public school located on 109th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam. We asked them to imagine a public realm that was greener, safer, and better for their community. Working in groups, they helped create photo simulations of their ideas, then wrote letters to local officials with their recommendations.

Here’s a look at their work and how they made it:

When we introduced the students to progressive concepts in street design, they immediately had strong opinions about how to improve their streets. While many adults appear to perceive public spaces as inflexible and static, young people are less encumbered. They tend to see the full range of possibilities for the use of their streets.