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Neighborkid Changemakers

Transforming neighborhoods so that all children thrive by rallying around neighborkids as talented community changemakers.

Photo of Allison Pinto
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Imagine a neighborhood transformed such that all children are thriving and the neighborhood itself is initiating broadscale community change efforts – and it is happening because everyone is following the lead of neighborkids! This proposal aims to develop a unique approach to generating peace and prosperity that is child-centered and resident-led. The overall goals are to optimize everyday neighborhood experiences that foster children’s civic capacity (community building, democratic decision making and collective action) as well as the core capacities of mental health (joyfulness and emotional regulation, relationship, exploration and learning, and contribution), to generate neighborhood attachment, and also to bring about well-synchronized systems changes and increased collective community capacity so that all children and whole neighborhoods are thriving. This happens first through summertime “neighborhood scavenger hunting,” a playful, kid-led approach to asset-mapping that activates the diversity of talents and resources that exist in the neighborhood. Each week as kids set out to explore their neighborhood, they chat with fellow neighbors, visit local businesses, and share knowledge, buzzing with enthusiasm and recording their discoveries along the way. As they self-organize to experience the neighborhood, they also “flex” their mental health capacities, revealing character strengths like grit, adaptability, and cooperation. Then, through a series of street-specific “neighborkid dinners,” enriched with relevant local data, neighbors of all ages join together to invite cross-sector professionals and systems in their city to connect, reflect, and synchronize their efforts, both with the talents and capacities of neighborkids, and with the assets and preferences of the neighborhood. By well-documenting and sharing how it happens as it happens, it will become possible for this approach to catalyze community change locally and to come to life in other places too.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Beneficiaries include children up to age 10, neighborhoods, and cross-sector networks in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, Florida, and other communities seeking to develop similar neighborkid-led initiatives focused on children's civic capacity and mental health for community change.

Children and fellow neighbors (including families) benefit through increased social capital with each other and increased opportunity to share wisdom and actively contribute as co-creators of neighborhood and community approaches to promote children's thriving. This generates neighborhood landscapes of increasing opportunity for all. Children also benefit through increased acknowledgement and self-awareness of their capacities as neighbors and changemakers, which in turn positively influences their own mental health.

Professionals benefit through increased opportunity to partner with children and neighborhoods around efforts to promote the thriving of children, neighborhoods and the community overall.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This effort is unique because it invests in children up to age 10 as significant changemakers in neighborhoods and communities. Neighborkids are naturally inclined to be curious, playful, friendly and joyful, and they are great story-tellers and boundary-crossers too. These are the very qualities that make for talented community changemakers and social innovators at any age. This effort is figuring out ways to cultivate and harness these capacities for the sake of increased civic capacity while simultaneously promoting and restoring children's mental health. We are well-poised to implement this idea because neighborkids here have already started developing the practice together with fellow neighbors, with growing community responsivity, in order to draw upon their own direct experience to guide the continued invention of the approach. Also, as a fellow neighbor myself, I am part of the local network / system, rather than introducing or supporting the efforts from outside the community.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Sarasota Community Studio (dba Community Studios) is a nonprofit organization established by residents to cultivate networks and spaces where neighbors come together around the talents of neighborkids, to invent powerful approaches to community change (with an emphasis on community building, community data, communications, and civic talent development), so that every child and the neighborhood as a whole are thriving. www.sarasotacommunitystudio.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

That first summer on the block was unforgettable. Within weeks neighborkids discovered artists (aka “homeless”), farmers (aka “unemployed,”), Olympians (aka “disabled”), and beloved caregivers (aka “felons”) among neighbors. Soon all were joining in. Kids say it best: “There's a neighborhood scavenger hunter in every one of us, no matter…what color you are, what school you go to, how small you are, what street you on, how you talk, what country you from, what dog you got, or how your face look."

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace and prosperity are influenced by current realities in both Sarasota and St. Petersburg, with the legacy of segregation and patterns of inequity clearly manifesting across neighborhoods. In Sarasota, the neighborhoods of Newtown (including Central-Cocoanut) experience significantly higher rates of unemployment, arrest and incarceration than other neighborhoods in the city, and in school children are experiencing higher rates of discipline and lower scores on standardized academic testing. In St. Petersburg similar patterns exist, along with lower rates of affordable housing and higher rates of children removed from their homes by CPS in the zip codes that include Lake Maggiore Shores. The elementary school to which LMS children are zoned was ranked among the lowest performing schools in Florida in 2015 (see https://tinyurl.com/pwkerr8). These are neighborhoods where the majority of residents identify as Black, and there is a history of discrimination in both communities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Neighborkids and fellow residents in Central-Cocoanut neighborhood of Sarasota and Lake Maggiore Shores of St. Petersburg have hosted several preliminary community convenings to introduce and begin developing the neighborkid-led efforts. I also meet with leaders in various sectors including the school district, health department, city government, housing authority, children’s services council, and faith and civic sectors to develop community data resources and to begin establishing a communications infrastructure that connects neighborkids, fellow neighbors, and professionals across sectors. I actively contribute to various professional networks and learning communities – regionally and nationally – to integrate approaches to civic capacity and children's mental health as a joint framework for promoting adaptive self-organizing for peace and prosperity at the individual, neighborhood and community scales. See: http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20120718/newtown-forum-is-led-by-youth/1

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

In both Central-Cocoanut and Lake Maggiore Shores, neighborkids already have a “demonstrated track record” of caring and contributing to the neighborhood and community, with fellow neighbors and local institutions indicating readiness too. In 2011, C-C neighborkids won a statewide award as a BEST neighborhood of Florida (see https://tinyurl.com/y8ocehzm) and in 2016, LMS neighborkids won a local award relating to the “Neighborbaby Fan Club” they established (see https://tinyurl.com/yc654l7s).

Geographic Focus

Central-Cocoanut and Lake Maggiore Shores neighborhoods of Sarasota and St. Petersburg respectively.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Over 36 months it would be possible to conduct 3 rounds of Neighborhood Scavenger Hunting and corresponding Neighborkid Dinners. This would include 2 months for recruitment and orientation, 3 months for neighborhood scavenger hunting, 3 months for follow-up asset-mapping (through a combination of community data analysis and more comprehensive talent profiles of each neighborhood scavenger hunter), and 4 months for neighborhood-hosted, street-specific, cross-sector neighborkid dinners.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

8 comments

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Photo of Willoughby Eunice
Team

I love this approach of removing the segregation created from time past. Getting them aware of their abilities and creating avenues for development.

Like the saying goes ; Get them while young.

All the best on the project.

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