Waterfront Program: Fostering civically-minded youth through community partnerships!

Students from The Northwest School learn all about the future of Seattle's waterfront on a fun, educational tour offered through the Waterfront Program’s partnership with the Seattle Architecture Foundation

Students from The Northwest School learn all about the future of Seattle’s waterfront on a fun, educational tour offered through the Waterfront Program’s partnership with the Seattle Architecture Foundation

The City of Seattle’s Waterfront Program team has received thousands of comments and suggestions for the design of Seattle’s future waterfront. Incorporating childhood memories of the waterfront, featuring the heritage of tribal communities, and the idea that downtown Seattle could reorient itself to face the Salish Sea are just a few ideas that people across the region use as fuel to ask great questions and give constructive feedback. The majority of the comments we receive are from adults, but they’re certainly not the only ones passionate about the future of Seattle’s waterfront.

As part of the Seattle Architecture Foundation's Art Generation group, teens brainstormed and designed destinations that could attract people to the waterfront during construction

As part of the Seattle Architecture Foundation’s Art Generation group, teens brainstormed and designed destinations that could attract people to the waterfront during construction

One neat aspect of pubic engagement on public projects, including the Waterfront Program, is that it’s not restricted to the 18 years-and-older crowd. The Waterfront Seattle design team values civic-mindedness across all age groups, including those who will live, work, and play on the future waterfront for many years to come. Youth and family programming gets the wheels of public involvement turning and helps develop skill sets that will be used throughout adulthood. Plus, it’s rewarding to dive into the perspective of young people living in the Seattle area, whose fresh eyes and creativity bring vibrancy into any conversation, and certainly into the conversation about Seattle’s waterfront. The Waterfront Program’s commitment to create a “waterfront for all” definitely includes young people. We’ve partnered with several organizations in the community to help kids and teens understand what’s going on at the water’s edge and have the chance to weigh in with their voices. We’ve worked with the Seattle Architecture Foundation, The Northwest School, the Seattle Youth Commission, Mercer Island High School, University of Washington and Western Washington University to engage kids and teens in our region through innovative learning opportunities.

Notably, as part of a weeklong series of events held earlier this year to highlight Waterfront Seattle’s design progress, the Waterfront Program hosted an interactive, kid-focused event called “Field Day.” From learning about jet grouting with Seawall engineers to discovering the importance of healthy marine habitats and the threat posed by gribbles (tiny marine isopods), it was a fun-filled day that doubled as a great educational opportunity. More than 600 people – mainly kids and families – participated in the Field Day event!

Learning about the importance of healthy marine habitats at the Waterfront Program's Field Day event in 2014

Learning about the importance of healthy marine habitats at the Waterfront Program’s Field Day event in 2014