BPS Students Partner with UMass Boston to Combat Extreme Heat in Roxbury
Students will Share Their Findings on July 27 at Roxbury Community College
“ While we all complain about the weather, these Roxbury youth have done the hard work to investigate its impact on the community. ”
While many of their classmates were enjoying cool ocean breezes, 25 Roxbury high school students have spent the month of July working with faculty from UMass Boston and Roxbury Community College to study Roxbury’s extreme heat crisis and what can be done about it.
These students are participating in the 2023 Summer Program in Urban Planning designed to introduce youth of color from environmental justice communities such as Roxbury and Dorchester to careers in urban planning, design, and development where there has been a glaring and persistent lack of diversity.
During the past month, these students have toured Roxbury’s historic Wakullah Dale neighborhood, used temperature sensors to record air temperatures at important public places in the community, conducted interviews with residents struggling to cope with Boston’s increasing temperatures, and investigated “best practices” to combat the effects of urban heat islands. The high school students have found that the air temperatures were, on average, ten degrees warmer in Roxbury that at Logan Airport where so-called "city-wide" temperatures are recorded.
A subgroup of the students have also worked with local urban designers to formulate guidelines and proposals for a new children’s playground to be constructed on the Roxbury Community College Campus near the historic Dudley House.
On Thursday, July 27 students will share their research findings with community residents and local officials in the Common Room of Building 3 at Roxbury Community College. The Student Research Forum kicks off at 12:30 p.m., when research posters with the students’ findings will be on display, and the presentations will begin at 1 p.m.
A highlight of the presentation will be their presentation of design guidelines for a new “cooling” children’s playground to be built on the RCC Campus. The presentation is open to any member of the community interested in climate justice, resident-led change, youth empowerment, and community/schools/city/university planning partnerships.
The Summer Program in Urban Planning is a joint venture of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the Boston Public Schools, Roxbury Community College, and the Department of Urban Planning and Community Development/School for the Environment at UMass Boston.
“While we all complain about the weather, these Roxbury youth have done the hard work to investigate its impact on their community,” said Ken Reardon, professor and chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Community Development at UMass Boston. “Their work carried out during several weeks of extreme heat identifies meaningful steps Boston can take to protect the health of its most vulnerable residents.”
“Thanks to funding from the city of Boston’s Community Preservation Act office, this new public park project at RCC will help mitigate the urban heat island effect, which takes a heavy toll on residents of Roxbury and nearby communities,” said Ruben Flores, Roxbury Community College special projects manager. “We are grateful to the students and UMass Boston’s Community Development and Urban Planning Department for their valuable input which will help shape the future of this future public green space.”
This year's Summer Program in Urban Planning involves students from five BPS high schools, including: Madison Park Technical Vocational HS, Dearborn Stem Academy, BostonTech Academy, Boston Community Leadership Academy and Blue Hills Regional HS.
The Summer Program in Urban Planning is a joint venture of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the Boston Public Schools, Roxbury Community College, and UMass Boston’s Department of Urban Planning and Community Development and Sustainable Solutions Lab. For more information on the Summer Program, contact: Ken Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org.