Undergraduate students launch online platform MyCityMyPark project with the City of Vancouver

November 20, 2020
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CMNS undergraduate student Abigail Foster and her Semester in Dialogue project team: Kelsey Strom, Hannah de Ramos, Ashley Holyk launched MyCityMyPark, a project created part of the Semester in Dialogue. Learn about their project and their Semester in Dialogue experience in the Q+A.  

Are you a youth living in the City of Vancouver? Visit @mycitymypark on Instagram and share your ideas for safe green spaces for youth in Vancouver.

What is your project about?

MyCityMyPark is about the intersection between Youth, Equity, and Green space in the city! We created an online platform where youth in Vancouver can share their ideas about what they love in their local parks, and what they want to see improved.

Why did you decide on a project engaging youth and the future City of Vancouver parks?

When approaching this project, our number one priority was to amplify youth voices. One of our team members spoke with City Councillor Pete Fry and he told her about the Kiwassa Neighbourhood House. Their Youth Advisory Council has been struggling to maintain the grounds at their local park. We spoke with the Youth Leader Emily Wong, and the Youth Program Coordinator, Rohani Seddiq, who recognized a need for youth to be able to share their concerns about green spaces in Vancouver in a space that held the City of Vancouver accountable.

How is the Semester in Dialogue? From the perspective of a CMNS student?

As a communications student, this program has been incredibly useful in giving me experience with a number of things, including online content creation that will be seen not only by my peers, but staff at the City of Vancouver. The feedback I have received from our stakeholders when presenting my teams project at various stages has taught me how to best deliver the necessary information, while keeping it engaging. As a student hoping to graduate soon I have developed invaluable skills of how to best shape a dialogue between students and professionals, and create a prototype for City Staff, while carefully balancing that power dynamic.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic influence your project plan?

As SFU students, we were all well aware of the impacts that COVID-19 has had on the lives of many youth in the city. The isolating impact of COVID-19 has led many youth to search for safe ways to reconnect with friends and family, but not every community has a safe gathering space. City parks offer a safe gathering spot for youth to reconnect but are often in need of improvements. An online platform for sharing ideas allows youth to safely and comfortably suggest improvements to the City of Vancouver.

How has been the experience working with the City of Vancouver?

The Semester In Dialogue works closely with City Studio, which allows us as students to connect with different City of Vancouver officials and create close relationships that bring much needed support and information to our project. Each week we meet with Stina Hanson, the Children and Youth Planner with the City of Vancouver, to discuss our project updates and receive feedback on how to improve.

What would you tell other CMNS students curious about the Semester in Dialogue program?

I would tell them to take this semester with an open mind, and to be prepared to face challenges they haven’t before in academia. I have learned so much about how to interact with people I want to partner with, and how to create a project from the stages of ideation to delivering a final presentation and report in front of City Councillors. If you are unsure of where your degree in Communications can take you this program is incredible for opening up doors to working in public service, and also in the private sector. You will meet amazing people, but you will also learn how to value what you bring to the table.