On November 4th, Antioch Middle School students in our Nashville After School Zone Alliance program went on a community walk to assess the needs and assets of the area around their school as part of their CASA (Cultura, Aprendizaje, Servicio, Acción) service-learning project. 

During their walk along Blue Hole Road, students made some great observations we should all take into account. For one, they noticed there is only one crosswalk in almost a one-mile radius around the school, which makes crossing unsafe for pedestrians. To complicate matters, only one side of the street has a sidewalk, making it difficult and dangerous for students who walk to school from the opposite side. As they walked along, they pointed out the Mill Creek Greenway, which provides a safe route under Blue Hole Road, though they noted the greenway was closed off and not well lit.

On an empty field near the school, the middle school students noticed litter, made up mostly of empty beer and liquor bottles. Noting the supermarket around the corner specializing in tobacco and alcohol products, the students attributed the discarded bottles to easy access to alcoholic beverages.

Antioch Park sits across the street from Antioch Middle School. The students rightly pointed out that the public park and its playground are an essential asset to the community. The space also had litter, despite the fact that the students had cleaned up some of it during an earlier trash pickup activity. The students also added Las Visas Mexican Food to the asset list, as it feeds community members with authentic Latin American cuisine.

These insightful observations are part of an ongoing service learning initiative that youth in Conexión Américas’ NAZA program participate in thanks to our long-standing partnership with UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Hipanic advocacy and civil rights organization. With these observations in mind, the youth at Antioch Middle School will work together to develop a project to serve their community and leave a lasting effect on the people their school impacts everyday.