There is a significant beautification project underway at Delaware Park (Parkside at The Scajaquada) that incorporates both a community dedication and hands on youth training. Lonelle Williams, Project Site Coordinator, is working with students from Bennett High School, McKinley and School 44 to install a 6′ x 300′ permeable walkway as part of a Susan G. Komen Commemorative Grove project being headed up by the Olmsted Parks Conservancy. As part of the Youth Construction Initiative Program, the students learn trade skills in the classroom throughout the school year before applying what they have learned to hands-on projects such as this.
Not only is the grove a worthy cause, the project is also ‘green’. “We wanted to do something with permeable concrete,” Lonelle told me. “So I researched the product and found the appropriate manufacturers. The concrete allows the water to percolate back into the ground and is treated naturally. Some of the kids needed to be certified in knowing how to use the material. We gave them as many tools as they needed to get the job done. All total the work is being performed by fifteen high school students along with two instructors and myself. My two instructors have engineering and construction backgrounds. We applied math equations that the students have been working on in school to show them that the skills that they are learning are necessary to obtain jobs. Practical application is very important. The dimensions of the trench needs to be covered with the right amount of textile – that involves problem solving… real world problems. The students researched various solutions and we went with the best one. We planned out the process ahead of time, and Olmsted approved the procedure and inspected the work along the way.”
This Youth Construction Initiative Program project is just one of eight being performed throughout New York State. After the walkway is complete, the students will use the experience to apply for jobs. Combined with learned resume building skills, conflict resolution training and interview practice, the students should have the appropriate skills to enter the workforce. An added bonus is the beautiful addition to the Olmsted Parks that the community gets to enjoy on a regular basis.
Lonelle Williams can be reached at:
Academy School @ 44
1369 Broadway Academy
Buffalo NY 14212