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City Studies students provide research for youth-friendly communities initiative

UTSC students in Dr. Ahmed Allahwala's City Studies class recently initiated a research project to help East Scarborough obtain a youth-friendly designation.

A group of UTSC City Studies students have laid important groundwork for a high priority neighbourhood in Scarborough that is seeking a youth-friendly designation for their community.

Twenty-two UTSC students undertook the community-based research project that looked at the state of youth play opportunities in East Scarborough as part of the Youth Friendly Communities program.

“This project provided an excellent hands-on opportunity for urban planning. Not only were our students doing research in the field, they built networks with various community partners,” says Dr. Ahmed Allahwala, who teaches the class of third and fourth year students.

Youth Friendly Communities is a program offered by Play Works. The non-profit organization recognizes communities across Ontario that meet the needs of adolescents through a variety of play activities such as recreation, arts, drama, sports and dance. Communities that meet or exceed a minimum of 10 out of 16 criteria can receive the designation.

For the project students were broken into four research groups and tasked with collecting data and making recommendations about options for youth play, facilities, funding and accessibility.

UTSC students collaborated with several community groups including the East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club, local youth and the city of Toronto on the research before making a presentation to the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park Neighbourhood Action Partnership committee. One important finding was that although many play options exist for youth in East Scarborough, many people are not aware of them.

“Our students achieved a great deal of meaning and purpose through this research and interaction with our community partners, more so than if they were just to write a research paper on what they found,” adds Dr. Allahwala.




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