Youth Voices for Local Change

By YLan Nguyen, Maryland Programs Manager

Photos Courtesy of AALEAD, Google Maps

AALEAD hosted focus groups for middle and high school youth to contribute feedback to the Wheaton Regional Park Master Plan in collaboration with the Montgomery County Parks Department and it’s consultant Skeo Solutions, Inc. (SKEO). 

Wheaton Regional Park is nestled in a forested area of Wheaton, Maryland, and offers a variety of recreational and educational opportunities within its 536 acres. The park is a place where many AALEAD youth and families visit to engage in a variety of activities from bicycling, walking, Brookside Gardens, and more. Many AALEAD youth occupy the parks in their own time, and AALEAD itself has hosted many events and community gatherings at the Montgomery Parks.

The purpose of the focus group is to inform policymakers on how Wheaton Regional Park is working for youth and families in Montgomery County, MD, gather feedback on what is working well at the park and what could be improved, and discuss opportunities for engagement in advocacy. In small groups, youth shared their experiences at Wheaton Regional Park. Youth in 6th to 12th grade shared thoughtful feedback about their experiences with the parks and ways for the local government to make parks more accessible to the Asian Pacific American community and youth. Youth shared their perceptions, opinions, and experiences about the Wheaton Regional Park. Youth discussed barriers that prevent them and their community to use the parks. This special leadership opportunity enabled participating AALEAD youth to practice public speaking and critical thinking skills to improve their local community.

Photo caption: Birds eye view of Wheaton Regional Park 

Through external partnerships, AALEAD youth gain exposure to the inner workings of local government and city planning. Youth get to learn and experience what it means to be an active citizen in their local community. 

A few of the participating youth, Linh, Vinh, Samantha, Xiao Ya, and others, share their reflections below. Youth reflected on their lessons learned from the focus group sessions and exciting ideas they shared.

Youth also reflected on the importance of having spaces for Asian Pacific American youth to share their experiences and perspectives.

AALEAD would like to thank the Montgomery Parks Department and Skeo Solutions. With this leadership opportunity, AALEAD youth were able to engage in their local community with the important work of public services and park planning.

Email Newsletters with VerticalResponse