More than two dozen teens will hit the streets of Maryvale this summer as part of a six-week community mapping program aimed at helping teens gain valuable job and self-empowerment skills while collecting data about health and social services, resources, and opportunities available to neighborhood youth. Applications to become a “youth mapper” are currently being accepted from teens ages 14 to 17 through May 7th at MapMayMaryvale.org.
“Seeing the community through the eyes of young people can offer a different view of what the community has to offer,” said Cindy Quintero, Community Youth Mapping program coordinator at Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH). “Not only is it a tremendous resource to the Maryvale community, the youth mapping experience and interaction with local professionals provides teens an opportunity to build self-confidence and to feel more connected to their community.”
Starting in mid-June, approximately 30 teens will conduct a block-by-block inventory of activities, programs and resources various businesses and organizations offer to young people in the Maryvale neighborhood. Accompanied by adult field supervisors, the teens will interview business and community members, collecting detailed information about the nature of their services. Youth mappers will note any gaps in services or resources and make recommendations for changes in their community. The project offers the opportunity for youth to become active participants in their learning as well as work in partnership with adults to lead community development projects.
Once all the data is collected, teens will sort and categorize the information and enter it into a grid mapping program called Atlas GIS (Geographic Information System). This database will be used as a foundation to create an app for Maryvale teens that will provide information ranging from college scholarships to the location of the nearest public basketball court. A third party consulting group, Block By Block, will build the app and provides the structure for the youth mapping project.
This initiative is being supported by the Arizona Department of Health Services through its Title V Block Grant to support positive adolescent development and transition to adulthood. The project is being coordinated by MCDPH and members of the Phoenix Community Youth Mapping Advisory Board. Board member Dee Pinkston of Chicanos Por La Causa Workforce Solutions says the project will help spur connections between employers and future job seekers in the Maryvale area. “I think the youth involved will gain an even greater sense of community and develop important communication skills that will be invaluable to them in the future,” said Pinkston.
Community Youth Mapping was created in 1991 by the New York City Department of Youth Services as a way to provide information needed for a citywide information sharing phone line called a YouthLine. Young people from across New York City canvassed their own neighborhoods in search of places to go, things to do, and opportunities for young people, children and families in the city. Since 1995, CYM has been promoted and utilized as part of education, health and community building initiatives in over 150 communities across the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries. Through the process of mapping their communities and sharing their findings, participants in other projects have reported increased self-confidence and leadership skills, increased knowledge of support resources and activities in their communities, and new connections to social networks.
The Map My Maryvale project runs June 13 to August 3, and teens will be paid a stipend upon completion. Due to the nature of the project, applicants living in or attending school in the Maryvale area are desirable, but not required. Bilingual English/Spanish skills also desired, but not required. Work hours will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and teens will have an enrichment day on Fridays to learn about relevant topics and develop skills such as healthy relationships, stress management, teambuilding, and nutrition. For more information, or to apply to be a youth mapper or field supervisor, visit MapMyMaryvale.org. The deadline to apply is May 7, 2018.