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The Meaning of Place

What is a place? Do you consider some places special? Why is that? What does a place mean to you? A reflective thought exercise to help us look at places through the lens of other’s and understand that people may see value in the same place for different reasons.

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  • Provide each youth with a piece of paper and have them draw their favourite part or area of a community park.  
  • Arrange all the drawings into one large picture. 


  • Explain, “Some of the users of the park have suggested some changes to better meet their needs. The changes get approved because it makes many of the park users happier”.  
  • Symbolize this by removing 1 or 2 of the drawings from the park and move 1 or 2 other pictures to take up more space.  
  • Ask the youth:  
  • How does everyone feel about the changes?  
  • Who has been affected by the change? 

Next have youth think of their favourite place to go with their family  


  • Where is your favourite happy place and why is it special to you and your family? 
  • Do you feel safe when you are at this place? 
  • Who else uses this place? (Various people, animals, insects) 
  • Why do you think others use this place? (same/different reasons?) 
  • Does everyone call the place by the same name? 
  • How would you feel if changes were made without considering your meaning of place? 


  • Do others make use of places in the same way? Differently? 
  • Do you think of your favourite place a little differently now? 
  • How could we go about making changes to the park in different ways?  


  • Drawing materials 
  • Optional: model building materials 

Keep it Simple

Instead of each youth drawing their own item/area, provide the participants with a large piece of paper to represent a map of a local community park. Have the youth place pre-made cut-outs or pictures/photographs of items/elements/areas of interest at the park.   

Take it Further

Instead of drawing a community park, provide building materials such as: 

Modelling clay 

Craft items: popsicle sticks, twine 

Building blocks 

Natural found items – sticks, twigs, pinecones, sand, rocks 

Tip: If using natural found items to bring back to the circle, youth can create an imaginary park or happy place. Each person takes a turn placing their item down stating what that item represents (i.e., the pinecone is a slide, etc.). Engage youth further by checking if they remember what each item represents before the next is added.  

Take suggestions from the group but make a unilateral decision when moving the items. Everything could be reset at the end in a way that is satisfactory for everyone, as part of the discussion process.