Youth & Public Space Workshop in Mathare

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Saturday was fun! UN-HABITAT visited the Mlango Kubwa community in Mathare slums, Nairobi to run a workshop on public space planning with local children and youth. Our friends from Up with Hope, Spatial Collective and Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Club helped us to put this event together.Though we planned for 30 participants, dozens more children showed up in the youth center, our main venue. Some of them were too young to participate, so they just watched and played. Some were eager to join the group work and we didn’t stop them. Why would we – after all, it is them, the children and young people of Mlango Kubwa that live there and thus have the right to say, what they would like to see happening with the space around them.

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Joao took over the ice-breakers and energizers throughout the day to keep everyone sharp and in good mood. Dana and Tone facilitated the process. Building on the success of the Youth & Urbanization workshop that we ran at the East Africa Cup in Tanzania a week earlier, the participants started with drawing their community maps the way they see it. Unlike in Moshi, each group was working with different type of public space: Hang out spaces, sport spaces, green spaces, art spaces and safe spaces. This way we could get more comprehensive understanding of what’s going on in the community and create broader wish-lists to work with.

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Once the brain work of space assessment and wish-lists was done, each group went to visit the physical spaces they identified as the best one right now and the new one to be created in future. Interestingly enough, many places overlapped (e.g. same place was chosen as the best sport space, the safest space and the best space to hang out) and also some of the things on their wish-list fitted well in more categories (e.g. swimming pool has been identified as a desirable space intervention by the safe space group as well as the hang out group). Various types of sport fields (volleyball, rugby, basketball etc.) have been also marked by more than one group.

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The final poster making and presentations were fantastic too! Young people put together their work and added some action points to kick off the transformation process. With confidence and pride they presented their work to the rest of the group and few guests. The posters remain in the community for others to admire their work and as a reminder for the participants.

Well done everyone! Job well done!

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