When city planners in Portland, Oregon, were looking for ideas to make public spaces more inviting to youths across the region, they turned right to the source. Tyler White, a junior at De La Salle North Catholic High School, teamed up with a diverse group of students from several area schools to research and develop a detailed action plan for youth inclusion.
“We talked to movers and shakers, read case studies, interviewed experts, and surveyed 200 youth from across the city,” White says. In a presentation to city staff, students shared their original designs for an app and accompanying website that would help young people find locations to meet their specific needs and interests. They also pointed out what the city is missing when it comes to what young people want and suggested ways to make public transportation more youth-friendly. “We had real conversations with people who have power and influence,” White recalls. “That shouldn’t be so revolutionary—it should be the norm.”