To examine community assets and needs
- Poster paper
- Markers and crayons
- Pencils and paper for taking notes
While taking a walking tour of the community, ask your kids to identify key community institutions, businesses, people, places of worship, and other places of significance. Have kids bring paper and pencils to record their observations about what they see, what they learn, what they like, and what they don’t like. Instruct the kids to form small groups and draw a map of their community on large poster paper. Suggest that they start with their homes and with public places like schools, places of worship, libraries, parks, and other locations where residents gather. Kids should also include notable natural features, prominent species of animals, and common species of plants.
Ask questions regarding their choices and emphases: What places are over- or under-represented, and what might this say about the kids’ feelings toward and perceptions of their community?
After the kids complete their maps, discuss community assets and needs. Community assets are the positive features the community has to offer: Parks, police stations, and hospitals are assets, as are active citizens in the community and the different cultures of residents. Broadly speaking, community needs are what the community lacks and the problems it faces: Environmental examples can include litter, lack of shade, limited green space, soil erosion, water pollution, unsanitary management of solid waste, mosquito breeding sites, and unkempt buildings.
Ask the group what additional assets or needs they did not observe on their walk but would still add. List their thoughts. From their community maps and community assets-and-needs list, identify common themes among kids’ observations. Take time to discuss these themes in depth. Priority areas should be considered as possibilities for service learning projects.
This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Mexico.