FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nicole Mendoza

Education Coordinator

Boys & Girls Club of Garfield

Tel. 973-478-7662

Fax 973-478-7411

nmendoza@bgcgarfield.org 
 

GARFIELD, NJ – December 30, 2008

The Keystone Club of Garfield recently collaborated with a volunteer group of GIS(Geographic Information System) professionals on a community asset mapping activity.  The Boys & Girls Club of Garfield members Nico McKinley, Pawel Buczek, Damian Luboch, Jordan Griffin, Jeffrey Reyes, and Joshua Descena volunteered time during their winter break to participate in the project. GIS professionals served as mentors to help Club members locate, take pictures and upload community asset data on an interactive mapping application. Club members and GIS mentors began their project early in the afternoon with an introduction and overview of GIS technology. The group then split up into three teams to cover different sections of Garfield. Teams took pictures of restaurants, groceries, street art and potential community clean-up sites. In the computer lab at the Boys & Girls Club of Garfield, groups uploaded their pictures onto the community map on the Garfield F.U.N. website – a health resource website run by the Garfield Health Department.

In addition to teaching GIS skills, this community asset mapping project also possessed a health component. Everyone in the group wore a pedometer to track the distance travelled and calories burned during their outing. Club youth and volunteers were excited to compare the number of steps taken by each individual and the amount of calories used. Club teens further gained a new perspective in viewing their hometown of Garfield. They took note of the wide variety of eateries and groceries of different cultures including Hispanic, Polish, and Asian. Club teens also documented potential community clean-up sites and discussed ways to beautify Garfield.

Wansoo Im, adjunct faculty member at Rutgers University, worked with Nicole Mendoza, Education Coordinator at the Boys & Girls Club of Garfield, in organizing this event. Gina Ferrara, a senior in environmental planning and design at Rutgers University, coordinated the project and project website. Other volunteers included Calvin Tien, a GIS manager and research associate at Rutgers University, and Matthew Vitullo and Carl Figueiredo, GIS Specialists from New Jersey Highlands Council. These volunteers, along with Dr. Im, walked through Garfield with the Club teens. Darleen Reveille of the Garfield Health Department and Tony Furfaro of Garfield’s Department of Parks and Recreation were also on hand and helped to facilitate the project.

The goal of this project was to introduce youth to a wide range of uses and skills of community mapping and to enable Club members to experience something new while obtaining new skills. For more information on this project, please visit www.garfieldfun.org and/or garfieldcommunitymapping.wordpress.com.

The Boys & Girls Club of Garfield serves over 800 multi-ethnic children per year.  They seek to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential and have provided hope and opportunity for youth since 1959. During 2009 the Club will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary. They are part of a national network of some 4,000 neighborhood-based facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which serves more than 4.6 million young people annually, in all 50 states and on U.S. military bases worldwide. Known as “The Positive Place for Kids,” the Clubs provide guidance-oriented character development programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full-time professional staff. Key Boys & Girls Club programs emphasize leadership development, education and career exploration, financial literacy, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation, and family outreach.  For more information on Club programs please call (973)-478-7662.

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