TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona students are taking what they learn in class to try and help a community. They pitched ideas to leaders in the Amphitheater Neighborhood to help improve quality of life. Research shows Amphi has a high percentage of renters, a large refugee population and more 30 languages spoken. Work has been on Navajo Park and houses are being built by habitat for humanity. But many people are struggling.
“I know that the community needs something now, and the sports idea is something that can be done now and scale up as time goes on,” said student Arthur Matthew.
Sociology students from the University of Arizona have some ideas to help. They pitched community leaders ways to improve the quality of life in the area. Ideas included apps connecting residents to social services along with translations to get past language barriers, using a sports league to connect people in the area, and a multipurpose garden.
The students are all taking the course Building Healthy Communities.
“We are doing more listening than we are talking,” said Habitat for Humanity Tucson CEO T VanHook. “We are allowing the students to present and see what really takes hold with what the neighbors are interested in and how they feel the student projects can impact their lives.”
Their professor says he hopes their studies can be put to real use.
“We're both doing it as a learning exercise, but hopefully there is a little bit of a nugget of truth and innovation there that can really benefit the community,” said Associate Professor Brian Mayer.
The students say they hope they can put their education to work for Amphi soon.
“Seeing the non-profits come together and hear new ideas and see about implementing them is really heartening and something I'm excited to see,” said Matthews.
The students are building off data collected in the Tucson Poverty Project. They've been researching the needs and challenges of vulnerable households in Tucson for the last five years.