Make Your Mark had its start with Transdisciplinary Design students Lauren Wong, Jinghang Huang, Min Chung and recent graduate and acting Community Director, Rashid Owoyele.

Make Your Mark is an urban parks stewardship program for youth that connects STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) to design and environmental and social justice. Partnership for Parks, an innovative joint program of the City Parks Foundation and New York City Parks and Recreation, funded a pilot program in the summer of 2013 that has engaged youth from the Grand Street Settlement, a nonprofit that provides community services on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, as stewards of the East River Park.

Make Your Mark combines youth leadership with service learning and stewardship within public parks. Each week of the summer pilot program, facilitators will guide participants through a framework in which students self-initiate much of their own research, observation, and action using a rich media platform. Make Your Mark’s structure, loosely based off the idea of a presidential campaign, guides youth through two paths: self-discovery of personal strengths or leadership qualities, and action-based design interventions examining and improving young people’s relationship with parks.

Make Your Mark seeks to pursue the critical analysis, exploratory problem analysis, and social innovation of participatory design with youth in a way that builds transferable skills for the future (communication, creative intelligence, career development, leadership, mentorship, cultural literacy, and technology) by connecting these skills to everyday activities and the local environment.

Moving forward into the Fall of 2013 Make Your Mark will be working with Coney Island Generation Gap to facilitate Make Your Mark through engagement in disaster preparedness (Teen Community Emergency Response Teams training) to support community resilience in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Incorporating art therapy techniques with the existing MYM Curriculum participants will explore, document, and design around social justice issues that are salient in the context of Coney Island through engagement at Kaiser Park in further partnership with Partnerships for Parks.