August 12, 2005
By ASHLEY L. BATTLE, Courant Staff Writer
For the past six weeks, 35 teens working at the Institute for
Community Research's Summer Youth Research Institute have been
busy studying the neighborhood conditions of the city.
By working in focus groups, the teens decided that three major
factors affect neighborhood conditions: community norms, role
models and financial situations.
The teens, ages 14 to 17, studied neighborhood conditions such
as fighting, unsafe parks, litter, deaths and abandoned buildings.
They worked in one of three groups: interviewing, surveying and
Chiedza Rodriguez, the program's coordinator and prevention
research educator, said that one of the program's goals was to
give today's teens a voice.
"We want the youth to know that what they know is knowledge
and that they can create change," Rodriguez said. Rodriguez,
who also served as the supervisor of the interview group, said
the teens came up with the idea to study neighborhood conditions
because they are affected directly by them.
Jennifer Jones, 16, of the interview group, . said she was especially
surprised that many people liked the area where they lived, although
the depiction of Hartford's neighborhoods tends to be negative.
Maricely Ponton, 16, and Kayla Waters, 17, both of Hartford,
worked in the survey group and found one statistic from the survey
troubling: 63 percent of the youths surveyed said they did not
have a role model.
"That surprised me the most," Waters
Damion Sincere Morgan, prevention research educator at the institute
and supervisor of the survey group, said another troubling statistic
was that males were less likely to say that teachers were their
Students Montreal Cade, 17, and Pedro Rivera, 16, both of Hartford,
participated in the visual/mapping section of the program, in
which they took photographs and drew maps to depict where problems
such as fighting, unsafe parks, litter and deaths have occurred.
They saidthey never thought of photography as a means of research
until they started the program six weeks ago.
When asked what effect he
hoped the program had on the public, Rivera said, "We're
trying to make the community aware."
At 1 p.m. today, the teens will report the results of their
studies at The Institute for Community Research, located at 2
Hartford Square, Suite 100. The event is open to the public.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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