EAST ORANGE, NJ- Community Technical Assistance, Inc.(CTA)’s Transforming Distressed Communities Program has actively engaged middle and high school public school students in the City of East Orange, NJ in an innovative service learning community project involving a variety of stakeholders utilizing community based planning techniques. The 2007 TDC Urban Planning Community Project Summer Interns research thesis was to increase access and mobility for disabled and non-disabled senior citizens within the right-of way. The goal was to improve the quality of life for disabled and non-disabled senior residents by increasing their access and mobility via a congested vehicular street crossing to a neighborhood park and local businesses. During a community roundtable discussion with students, seniors cited issues with cracked, unleveled and narrow sidewalks. Also, no sidewalk lighting and not enough bus shelters were issues. While on field visits students observed seniors jaywalking for shorter crossing distance, cars stopping within the crosswalk and signal times not long enough for seniors to cross the street. Under the guidance of the program’s staff and curriculum, student participants were able to provide hands-on technical assistance and case study recommendations to seniors and other stakeholders in the City of East Orange on how to transform the quality of life and access to the local neighborhood park and businesses frequented by seniors.
CTA is located in the City of East Orange, NJ, a low-to-moderate income community. The organizations Transforming Distressed Communities (TDC) program is a truly innovative and commendable endeavor which recognized a need to increase awareness of planning and engage youth and residents in decision making. The TDC program is an applied learning based program which targets middle and high school public school students, linking their academic education with local hands-on community development projects. Through the program, CTA seeks to : 1) increase awareness of community development planning with middle and high school students who attend public school in low income and minority communities 2) Enable students to apply the planning process to real world community projects which promote healthy environments 3) Increase the number of minority planners from disadvantaged communities in the planning profession.
Community Technical Assistance, Inc. (CTA) mission as a New Jersey based 501(c) (3) non-profit organization is to provide technical assistance in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods in order for youth, residents, community-based and faith-based organizations to transform their distressed community.