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Graduate School

Former Graduate Civic Scholar Dr. Eboni Haynes Engages Teens in Land Use Planning

 | January 17, 2020

Eboni Haynes graduated in December 2019 with a PhD in health services policy and management from the Arnold School of Public Health. As a doctoral student, she also was part of the Graduate School’s innovative Graduate Civic Scholars Program, directed by faculty members Dr. Lucy Ingram in the Arnold School and Dr. Allison Marsh in history. The Graduate Civic Scholars Program provides opportunities for interdisciplinary research, involvement in social justice initiatives, and an enhanced understanding of the role of scholarship in addressing societal needs. Dr. Haynes was an ideal participant in the Graduate Civic Scholars Program because of her strong commitment to and history of engaging with stakeholders to address health disparities.

During Dr. Haynes’s time in the Graduate Civic Scholars Program, she developed a partnership with the Arnold Boys & Girls Club, which is one of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands region of South Carolina. The Arnold Boys & Girls Club shares a namesake and benefactor with the Arnold School of Public Health – Norman J. Arnold, who generously supported youth programming as well as public health research and practice. Through after-school programming, Boys & Girls Clubs provide safe places for young people to develop good character and citizenship, learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, and receive assistance so that they can achieve academically. James Brown, a Board member, and June Booth, the director of the Arnold Boys & Girls Club, were instrumental in ensuring that Dr. Haynes was able to meet bi-weekly with the teens at the Club. Through partnerships with UofSC’s Department of Geography (Dr. Conor Harrison), Richland County Library (Debra Bloom), the City of Columbia’s Planning Department (Leigh DeForth and John Fellows), the City Council (Honorable Howard Duvall, Jr. and Honorable Tameika Isaac Devine), the teens learned about the history of the Rosewood Community, the importance of community and land use planning, the process City of Columbia officials use to engage communities and develop plans, the process citizens – young and old – should use to successfully advocate for changes at the municipal and state levels, and how to conduct and use results from community assets and needs assessments to help improve one’s community.  

Dr. Haynes established a connection with Christian Carpenter, who is a student at Dreher High School and participant in the Arnold Boys & Girls Club, through this work. Together and with other teen members of the Arnold Boys & Girls Club, they collaborated over five months on a project to ascertain youth opinions on use of public space in their community. Their work engaged local youth and showed a high level of interest and competence in community planning. Community and public land use efforts should include youth perspectives in assessment processes.
The results were summarized in an abstract and submitted for consideration to present at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association. The abstract was accepted for presentation. Dr. Haynes worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands Executive Director Troy Thames and Dr. Ingram to identify sources of travel support so that she and Miss Carpenter could present their results. Dr. Haynes and Miss Carpenter jointly presented their research at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association on November 5, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a session organized by the Community-Based Public Health Caucus. Their presentation titled, “Youth Interest and Engagement in Community and Land Use Planning,” was part of this session with nine other presenters on youth leading the way to healthier communities, and one of the co-authors must have been a student/youth.

“Having served as a planning commissioner and worked with several planning commissions in the past, I knew first-hand that opinions of local youth were often not sought for various reasons. I’ve always wanted to change that and find creative ways to get youth excited about civic engagement and public policy,” shared Dr. Haynes. “By the end of the project, I hoped that the youth would increase their understanding of municipal governance, planning and zoning issues, community health improvement, and advocacy. Based on the evaluation results, this project accomplished those goals."

"What I’m most proud of, however, is that the teens had opportunities to interact with and learn from individuals from the City of Columbia, Richland County Library, and UofSC that they may never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, despite everyone living and/or working just a couple of miles from each other, and that I was able to expose at least one of the teens to the world outside of Columbia."

"As the teens shared in the evaluation that they want more community members and leaders to visit with them, the key, now, is to make that happen.”   
“The collaboration between Dr. Haynes and Miss Carpenter epitomizes our goal for the Graduate Civic Scholars Program. Dr. Haynes sought to plan and implement a project that might engage youth and fulfill her requirement for the year-long GCSP, but it did so much more,” commented Dr. Ingram. “She established a relationship with the Arnold Boys and Girls Club that transcended her engagement with them, as the GCSP has introduced new scholars to the agency as a potential partner for their own projects. Furthermore, Miss Carpenter’s enthusiasm in working with her community and her interest in sharing her findings and her experience with a broader, international audience was inspiring. I delighted in seeing Miss Carpenter present her work at the conference, and other spectators were impressed by her poise given her age and experience. Dr. Haynes was an amazing, perhaps unexpected mentor, and an exemplar for how the GCSP can have impact beyond the borders of our university.”
The Graduate Civic Scholars Program includes exceptional graduate students, like Dr. Haynes, who are working with communities locally and globally on relevant civic research and public engagement. The call for applications to the 2020-2021 cohort of Graduate Civic Scholars is open through the deadline of 5 p.m. on February 17, 2020. For more information, visit the Graduate Civic Scholars Program website here

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