Students participating in the Y-PLAN Richmond Healthy Cities Initiative recently took to the streets of Downtown Richmond to explore the neighborhood and map its strengths and opportunities for improvement.  Representatives from Richmond Mainstreet provided students with a tour of the area and offered interesting insights about how the community has changed over the years, and potential areas for growth.

The Richmond Healthy Cities Initiative is a two-year action research effort to provide direct support to Linked Learning Pathways and The California Endowment Building Healthy Communities Initiative through Y-PLAN. We are building on 5 years of partnership with West Contra Costa Unified School District and the City of Richmond to scale and deepen Y-PLAN across three high schools, engaging about 280 students in the 2015-16 Academic Year.  

This year, students from De Anza High School, Kennedy High School and Richmond High School are all involved in interrelated Y-PLAN projects.  Richmond High School students have partnered with Contra Costa Health Services to explore Education and Access to Mental Health Services in Richmond and WCCUSD. They are engaged in creating a mental health curriculum for area middle school students.  Eleventh graders in De Anza’s Health Academy are examining the topic of Healthy Food + Healthy Living in Downtown Richmond.  Twelfth graders from Kennedy’s Tech Academy are looking into Bridging the Digital Divide in Downtown Richmond.  Both of these schools are working under the direction of their client, Richmond Mainstreet, a community-based nonprofit corporation dedicated to revitalizing historic Downtown Richmond as a pedestrian-friendly urban village. The Mainstreet Initiative is interested in hearing students’ opinions about how to revitalize the historic Downtown and make it more youth-friendly.

At the end of February, students from Kennedy and De Anza High School met with their client representatives from Richmond Mainstreet to explore the downtown Business Improvement District, which is the main focus of the students’ project. Within just a few blocks, students were able to see plenty of examples of improvements (increased street lighting, wider sidewalks, safer streets and crosswalks, and public art), but also areas for future development (empty buildings and vacant lots).

Using the information from their tour, the students did a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and shared their ideas with the group.  In the coming weeks, students will be using the information they gathered to help shape their proposals. They will present their ideas and findings to members of the Richmond Mainstreet Initiative, the City of Richmond, parents and community members at the Y-PLAN final event on April 25th at the Richmond Civic Center. We’d love to see you there!!