Emerson students, local teens connect through civic engagement project

by Laura King / Beacon Staff • December 4, 2014

Boston-area teens working with a group of Emerson seniors and a local tech company came to the college on Dec. 1 to present the websites they learned how to design.

The Emerson students, who are in a communication studies capstone program, have been working with teenagers from the Bird Street Community Center of Dorchester—which serves under­privileged youth from several Boston neighborhoods—to encourage expression through web design.

The class, part of a larger collaboration called The Emerson Bird Street Civic Engagement Project, worked with Oomph Inc., a digital design firm based in Cambridge.

This fall, the students have been hosting weekly workshops in Emerson computer labs for Bird Street youth to discuss their interest for art and technology, according to a press release, and the students were taught the basics of web design over the past six weeks.

"This project provides a pathway for the Bird Street students to see the importance of education,” said Neil Harris, the education coordinator at Bird Street and a founding partner in the project, in the press release. “This will allow the students to continue their momentum in moving forward and preparing for success in their careers and in life."

The program was initially launched after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 and President M. Lee Pelton called for collaboration on a solution to youth violence, the release said. The project has sought to create a mentoring relationship between Emerson and Bird Street students and to spark discussions about violence in their communities.