Denver Learns Residents' Aspirations for Children and Youth

Article excerpt

This year, the Denver Mayor's Office for Education and Children (MOEC) launched the Aspirations Project to gather community responses to the question: "What are your hopes, dreams and aspirations for children and youth from birth to 20 years old?"

MOEC received more than 1,200 responses to this question from community members, with one-third of the responses coming from youth. The 1,200 aspirations will be shared broadly with city residents through public readings and a booklet describing the project, and will help create a framework for MOEC's goals and priorities for 2007.

Background

In developing the project, MOEC convened an advisory committee that included elected officials, city agencies, community organizations, educators and youth. The committee and MOEC staff worked together to find out what the Denver community envisioned for children and youth.

To answer that question, the office assessed its own efforts in supporting children and youth through current programming and partnerships. Additionally, a community assessment provided a general overview on demographics, economics, health and education.

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Through consultation with the advisory committee, MOEC decided to survey the general public by asking a simple, open-ended question in lieu of a multi-question survey, structured interviews or focus groups. This question was then distributed to community partners, children and youth service providers and educational institutions through various meetings and conferences and to city employees through an online survey.

Different Hopes from Adults and Youth

For adults, the most common aspiration centered on the accessibility and availability of quality education--from preschool through college.

"My dreams for children are they get the best education possible to be the future of tomorrow," said one adult respondent.

Nearly as many adult responses described an inclusive, welcoming community for everyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socio-economic level. Responses focusing on wellness included creating healthy home environments, accessible health care services and nurturing relationships.

The priority for youth was a city that recognizes youth as assets to the community. Youth wanted job training opportunities, safe neighborhoods and youth-orient ed activities and localities. …