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Developing a Kid-friendly, Green City

On Friday, March 31st, 2017, APA Ambassadors Mindy Moore of Snyder & Associates, Leanne Harter, and Jennifer Wiltgen of Snyder & Associates, visited a 113.3333px;">st and 2nd-grade classroom in Nevada, Iowa. Mindy Moore led an exercise termed “Kidtropolis” with the children using material and exercises from the “Metropolis” curriculum written by John Martoni.

The exercise began by asking the children to envision what a “kid-friendly” and “green” city meant to them and the qualities it needed to have. The students identified several qualities of their ideal city including:

  • “lots of flowers”
  • “fun”
  • “places to play”

Manmade & Natural City Components

After talking about what makes a city great, Moore covered the different components of a city based on Kevin Lynch’s Image of the City. She began by speaking with the children about the edges of a city, both manmade and natural.

After discussing what edges were, the children were given individual pieces of paper to begin drawing their city. They named their city, created a legend, and created a north arrow. Next, they used what they had just learned to begin drawing their edges, which included mountains, oceans, forests, and walls. APA Ambassadors Leanne and Jennifer assisted different groups of children with drawing of their maps and helping them understand what they meant.

Unique Visions Emerge

For each component that followed, Districts, Public Spaces, Landmarks, and Transportation, Moore would go over what each was with the children. She would sometimes relate different elements to popular kid’s movies to better match them with the children’s interests. For example, she related districts to the popular Disney movie “Zootopia,” which had clearly defined districts for different animals such as “Sahara Square” and “Tundratown.”

After going through all the different elements of a city, the kids developed their very own kid-friendly, green city. For some, this meant traveling by gondola or teleporters. For others, it meant having a large Ruby or soccer ball as their city landmark.

Regardless of what defined their city, the children had a great time thinking about the different components that make a city great. As ambassadors, it was rewarding to see how quickly the children learned and their excitement for planning.



“My favorite part of the activity was seeing how quickly the kids caught on to planning concepts. I’m a transit planner, so I was really excited when one of the kids designed their very own transit system with a route and stops. I was pretty impressed!” — Jennifer Wiltgen, AICP


Building Relationships & Supporting Future Generations

The APA Ambassadors program is one of many ways we work to build community relationships and support future generations. In doing so, we gain valuable insight about the communities we serve, while fostering growth through education and thought leadership. For Wiltgen, Moore, and Harter, the program provides a unique and fun way to introduce young children to the planning profession and the importance it has on the world around us.


“The kids were eager to participate and had amazingly creative ideas! With their ingenuity, our cities will certainly be happier and healthier in the future.” — Mindy Moore, AICP


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