A team from the College of Education, Health, and Humanities (CEHHS) recently partnered with community members to launch the Omaha Urban Thinkscape project. Omaha Urban Thinkscapes will transform two public spaces in Omaha neighborhoods into learning opportunities through scientifically and artistically designed play installations.
The Omaha Urban Thinkscape Project received initial funding from a UN Strategic Investment Grant of $ 113,000 for Social Justice, Inequality, Race and Class.
Metro-Omaha Raise Me to Read, a project supported by MOEC and a member of the National Campaign for Reading at School Level, launched the idea of Omaha Urban Thinkscapes to provide children, parents and caregivers with the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities that promote early literacy and learning.
Early literacy is essential for school readiness, a positive school experience, and future success in life. Research shows that the years from birth to age five are the most important for building brain architecture and developing executive functions.
The Omaha Urban Thinkscape team includes:
- Dr Debora Wisneski | John T. Langan, Community Chair of Early Childhood Education and Associate Professor, UN Department of Teacher Education;
- Stephen Osberg, AICP | Director of Transportation and Urban Development at the Greater Omaha ConnectGO Chamber of Commerce;
- Kathleen Knudsen, MS. EdAd | Metro-Omaha Raise Me to Read Facilitator at the Metro Omaha Educational Consortium;
- Dr Kristina Stamatis | Assistant Professor, United Nations Department of Teacher Education; and
- Mollie Stehl | UN graduate assistant.
Sarah Lytle, executive director of the Playful Learning Landscapes Action (PLLAN) network chaired a series of launch events on October 29 to advise the team on next steps and explore with community leaders some unique community engagement practices.
The final kick-off event featured a keynote address by Dr Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor of psychology at Temple University, senior researcher at the Brookings Institution and creator of PLLAN, who asked those gathered to “imagine the new public square “where Thinkscapes” beautify your neighborhoods, towns and cities so as to develop social skills and learning. “
Next steps include community engagement and ongoing outreach to Omaha partners and leaders as the two neighborhood sites are identified.
Learn more about Urban Thinkscapes: