This story is part of our #BeTheChange series, which highlights small and large contributions that Manhattan College students are making across campus, in New York City and the U.S., and internationally.
Graduating seniors Jordyn DiCostanzo ’19, Emma Kaishian and Caroline Kane helped conduct a walkability assessment that prioritized street safety for children and the disabled.
With her clipboard in hand and walking shoes tied, Emma Kaishian ’19 headed west along Van Cortlandt Park Avenue in Yonkers. She and fellow seniors Jordyn DiCostanzo and Caroline Kane were in the area scoping out potential safety hazards near a playground and community garden. Can children travel there safely from school? Do clearly marked crosswalks connect the surrounding streets?
Students in Kinesiology and Public Health (KIN 304) this semester answered these critical questions with help from the Groundwork Hudson Valley Green Team, made up of Yonkers teenagers. The walkability analysis was led by Groundwork Hudson Valley and Jeff Cherubini, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology. Once they collect their data, the groups will lobby for repairs. For this, they’ll need support from different city government organizations.
Video by: Laura Meoli-Ferrigon and Camryn Holly '21
The Manhattan students built the community garden beds in March with Groundwork and employees of Greyston Bakery, another nonprofit. Throughout the spring, they have been meeting residents who neighbor the green space to determine the wants and needs of the local community. For Kaishian, who plans to pursue a master’s in public health from Columbia University, these connections have been informative.
“Doing a project like this, hands-on, opens up a new door of knowledge and opportunity. Working with others in the real world, you need to find out exactly what the needs of the community are,” she said.
DiCostanzo, a kinesiology major, and Kane, who is studying allied health, both plan to become occupational therapists. The project taught them to become more mindful of individuals who are ability impaired. Specifically, the assessment accounted for whether different intersections had wheelchair ramps on both sides. This is important because the community garden will benefit residents in a nearby apartment complex.
Kane will begin an occupational therapy program at New York University in the fall and plans to work one day in a nursing or hospital setting. At Manhattan, she has been involved in Love Your Melon, an apparel brand that raises money for cancer research, and aims to give a hat to every child battling cancer. Her reasons for joining the group are similar to those she cites for wanting to become an occupational therapist.
“I’ve just always wanted to do something that was fulfilling,” she said.