March 12, 2010

Anniversary of a Park's Commissioner Appointment

On this day in 1974, Atha Mathieu became a park commissioner for San Anselmo, California.

So what, right?

So this: Atha was only 12 years old!

She was arguably the youngest parks commissioner in the country, and
she got a lot of attention, even worldwide attention.

Atha sought to be part of the Parks and R
ecreation Commission because she felt that, given the fact that kids use parks even more than the average adult, kids should be represented on the commission. She argued that “[g]rownups don't understand children. Children understand children.”

Those who opposed her appointment argued that the budget meetings went on past her bedtime
. And that she would get bored.

Some newspaper articles on Atha's position on the commission mentioned that she yawned a few times during long budget meetings, but that she didn't get bored.

Should more children be involved in government?
Should children have the right to vote?

Did you k
now that many people, over the years, have argued that the voting age should be lowered! Some people say that teens 16 and up should be able to vote. Some say the voting age should be 14, or even 12. And some say that there should be a test, similar to the citizenship test, which children have to pass if they want to vote before age 18.

What do you think? What would be some good arguments for...or against...children being allowed to vote?

Read one kid's opinion here, and a whole bunch of opinions here.

Kids Voting USA

This is not a website agitating for kids' right to vote while kids, but rather a website urging education in voting so that kids will grow to be adults who vote and otherwise participate in running their country. You may have guessed from the name that it is specific to the United States.

This organization was formed by adults who were impressed to find out that there is huge voter turnout in Costa Rica. Apparently, 90% of all eligible voters vote each election in
that country! Costa Ricans think one reason they have such high voter turnout is because their kids grow up going to the polls with their parents and therefore learn all their lives about how important it is to vote.

Design a park.

If you were a park commissioner for your town, what improvements would you like to see at your parks? How about designing an all-new park just the way you want it?

Don't be content to make general suggestions. If you want sculptures in the park, s
ay sculptures of WHAT. (Alice in Wonderland graces New York City's Central Park.) If you want a playground, describe the playground. What kinds of apparatus should the playground have? What would it be made of?

Some cities really do consult kids when designing new parks. For example, new skate
parks in California and Minnesota were planned with input from teens who skateboard. This article relates the involvement of elementary-aged kids in designing a new park in Texas.

Here's a way to plan a park on the computer. You can place the playground equipment, sports venues, water attractions, and many other features exactly where you want them.

PBS Kids has an activity about designing a park—and urges kids to get involved in creating better or more parks in their own towns!

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