Staff Activity: Forging Effective Communication among Families and Programs

Community Mapping Activity

Purpose: A community map can help staff develop a deeper understanding of the community served and their connection with your program. It also provides opportunities for staff to become familiar with the physical layout of their community and the locations of agencies and services in it. This activity also creates a platform for making connections with other community stakeholders.

Materials Needed:

  • Butcher paper or newsprint
  • Markers, colored pencils, crayons
  • Colored construction paper
  • Paste or glue
  • Scissors
  • Old magazines for clipping
  • Map of the community
  • Clipboards to use during neighborhood exploration

Time Needed: Three hours

How to Facilitate the Activity:

This activity requires a map of the community surrounding your program with street names and numbers. This map can be obtained online. Once you have the map, locate your program and determine how far outreach to potential community resources will extend (one mile, two miles, etc.). On 8 ½ x 11 paper draw an illustration of your program site and the blocks that outreach will include. (See sample below.) Using your sketch, draw a second large illustration on butcher paper or newsprint.

Invite families, staff, and youth to help map the community using the illustration on the butcher paper by including the buildings, parks, houses, businesses, churches, etc. that exist nearby. After completing the exercise, invite families, staff, and young people to participate in a neighborhood exploration. The object of the neighborhood exploration is to identify any resources left off the larger map. Using copies of the map created on 8 ½ x 11 paper, take a walking tour around the community, including the initial area identified for outreach.

Emphasize that the primary task is to identify resources not listed on the map and to identify resources that families could utilize such as afterschool programs, senior centers, health clinics, etc. Record the names and addresses of the business and note if services are available in other languages.

Encourage creativity. Develop icons for landmarks that will be recorded on the map. Once your map is completed, let families, staff, and youth know that the map will be kept on display and encourage them to make additions and modifications on an ongoing basis.

Debrief Questions:

  • What patterns do you see?
  • Who lives the closest to program? Who lives the farthest away?
  • Are the homes clustered, or grouped, around the program? Explain.
  • Are there clusters of families living in one area? Explain.
  • Do some participants travel long distances to get to the program? Explain.
  • What business and organizations surround the program? Is there anything missing?

[1] Exercise adapted from Changing Scenes: A Curriculum, of the Team Outreach Program, for DOE Parent Coordinator Resource Guide by The Youth Development Institute.  


Communication Tools & Resources