The Urban Space Challenge 2019
Transforming public space
How do you transform a slum into a creative space where young people love to live? Next month, more than 100 young people will tackle this question when they sign up for The Urban Space Challenge 2019. This year, the challenge takes place in Freetown, Sierra Leone. For 6 months, the participants will design, test and develop new ideas for how slums can become more lovable. Freetown, get ready! Public space is about to get dreamy, chill, green, cultural, artsy, musical, sportified, you name it!
Youth taking the lead
In addition to designing physical spaces, The Urban Space Challenge includes inspiring trainings in core leadership disciplines such as idea pitching; community mobilisation; project management and advocacy. The ambition is to support young people’s drive towards taking the lead in community development.
Since it’s a competition, there will, off course, be a winning team. The jury is the local youth themselves who will vote to choose the best ideas. The winning team will represent their community at the UN conference – World Urban Forum - hosted in Abu Dhabi in 2020. During this event, the winners will make a powerful advocacy statement - addressed at politicians, INGOs, and the private sector - on young people’s rights to the city, and showcase their dreams and innovative ideas for how slums can become youth friendly.
The Urban Space Challenge 2019 takes place in Kissi - an urban slum community located in the Eastern part of Freetown. In Kissy, one can hardly find a public space that provides a sense of comfort and freedom for young people to interact and share ideas. With over 75,000 people, Kissy is one of the most densely populated communities in the capital. Youth make up 65% of population.
Reframing the message
Kissi is marked by a bad reputation and youth feel stigmatised. Stories about the community tend to focus on the youth unemployment rate, which is close to 90 %, the community having one of the highest crime rates in the country, and the strong presence of drugs and commercial sex work.
The Urban Space Challenge will reframe these negative narratives and bring light to the vibrant youth culture that exists in kissi, with young people doing community work, arts, music, dance, and the tough and informal jobs that make the city go round.
The Urban Space Challenge 2019 is a joint venture between Dreamtown and YMCA. YMCA is one of the oldest organizations in the country and have, for many years, worked together with youth living in the slums of Freetown. The challenge is supported by the danish Civil Society Fund (CISU).
The Sustainable Development Goals
The challenge contributes directly towards Sustainable Development Goal 11 - target 11.7 - focused on increasing access to safe and inclusive public spaces in cities.