College of Science

Children’s Perceptions of and Engagement in Urban Resilience in the US and Mexico.

Dr. Tori Derr sheds light on the resilience of communities, and what it means for children. While adults are often given opportunities to participate in planning initiatives, young people’s vision for the places they live, and their idea of what they need to be healthy and successful members of society, is also valuable. This ideology is part of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, which has been ratified by all member nations except the United States.

Prior to her arrival here at CSUMB last fall, Dr. Derr coordinated a program called Growing up Boulder - a formal partnership between the city, school district, and University of Colorado - to take a closer look at what sustainability looks like for children there. Dr. Derr’s interest includes understanding what kids think fosters the resilience of their cities and where they feel vulnerable. She also investigates how access to nature and social support systems affect children’s lives both day to day, and over the long term. The suggestion that nature can and does intersect with the resilience of a community, is that having a place to escape chronic stresses of everyday life is essential to a person’s well being. So by enhancing the environment, a community would also enhance the indirect support system for children.

In her paper, “Children’s Perceptions of and Engagement in Urban Resilience in the US and Mexico,” forthcoming in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Dr. Derr and research partners in Mexico City summarize resilience from the perspectives of children living in Boulder, Colorado, and Mexico City. Dr. Derr is currently working with her colleagues in Mexico City to explore how urban spaces can be designed to better foster safe access to outdoor spaces within Mexico City, where increased street violence and traffic prohibit children’s play in parks or street spaces.

Close to home here in Monterey County, Dr. Derr is interested in exploring similar issues for how communities can increase young people’s resilience by focusing on mental health and positive youth programming. Providing an outlet and a support system through nature is one means to assist in these endeavors.

Congratulation on your paper Dr. Tori Derr, Keep up the inspiring work!