Imagine the Possibilities is a six-month youth leadership program in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods with a mission to develop young residents through skill and confidence-building to empower them to be community advocates.
In its fourth year of the program, we collaborated with Colorado State University (CSU) to develop a project framework based on a core civic engagement curriculum, including participation, advocacy, community building, public policy, and local government.
This year had a specific focus on the traditional park design, and empowering the students to reimagine what a playground could look like. Throughout the six month program, the kids met with city leaders, visited various parks throughout Denver and used pop-up materials from our Tiny Wonderful to design their ideal park.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this year’s Imagine the Possibilities program, is that the City of Denver became interested in our playground designs, and as a result, the City has agreed to financially support the students’ designs next summer at Swansea Park!
We took a field trip to visit five parks throughout Denver in order to expose students to different design approaches. The students toured the parks and reflected on key difference between each one. We took photos and identified aspects of the park that did and didn’t work well.
We asked students to reflect on their experience by journaling about what they were most impacted by during the park visits.
We partnered with Design Workshop to identify what type of play structures the students would like in their neighborhoods. Using our City as Play activity, we constructed play spaces using arts and crafts to develop a conceptual model. These models allowed us to explore potential real life solutions to the community needs we identified.
Using all of the research from our park visits, combined with the models the kids created during the City as Play activity and design workshop, we built a pop-up playground that featured several of the students’ top choices and design ideas. The canopy bridge included 11 planks with the names of each of the students and the planks were given to the students at their 5th grade graduation as souvenirs.
We are so thrilled that the City has agreed to use the students’ designs as inspiration for a new playground, coming to Swansea Park the summer of 2019. Stay tuned for more updates as the playground develops!