Walking with Children: Digital Advocacy for Childcare Services in Dakar responds to the absence of data on the lived experience of children and their experiences in Dakar, Senegal and its suburbs, proposing a series of innovative activities aimed at strengthening the advocacy capacity of parents and caregivers, media and municipal authorities in three socioeconomically diverse communes in Dakar. In collaboration with a local NGO, ImagiNation Afrika, the project intends to first, engage parents and municipal authorities in participatory research and co-creative dialogue in order to collect qualitative and quantitative data on the experiences and services of children (ages 0-3) and their caregivers in 3 communes in Dakar. Second, engage the larger Senegalese society through social and traditional media in a public dialogue on the lived experiences of children and their caregivers in urban environments by both formally mapping childcare services and organically following children through their neighborhoods. Third, use multimedia, data and creative advocacy to raise awareness and provoke action on improving the quality of life and services for children ages 0-3 and their caregivers in West African urban environments. The project will culminate as an advocacy toolkit that can be used by other non-profits, governmental groups, or individuals seeking to improve and sustain the quality of life for children, developing as an interactive website, an app, an exhibition, a series of videos, or perhaps a combination of several of these platforms.
Grace Chen is a junior at Mount Holyoke College majoring in Architectural Studies. She originally hails from Maryland, but her design approach is influenced by her East Asian background and her extensive travels throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. As an interdisciplinary design student, her research focuses on human interaction and spatial development particularly within sustainable architecture and socially responsible design. Her past projects have included a site redesign proposal for an agricultural NGO in Northern Thailand with Hampshire College, a renewable energy roof in Black Rock City for the Burning Man Festival with Columbia GSAPP’s XTR Lab, and an exhibition on architectural literary influences with Storefront for Art & Architecture.