ANTIOCH, Tenn. (WKRN) — Across from Antioch Middle School at Antioch Park is where high school junior Cydney Rugless Thompson saw a need.
“A lot of people play soccer here, and as I pass by on Blue Hole Road, I see them playing soccer without any goals,” she said.
So after talking to students and community leaders, she and others with the Nashville Youth Design Team decided to create a soccer tournament where the youth could come out and enjoy soccer with the proper equipment last summer.
“What we found out was that a lot of kids do like to come here, and they would like to come here a lot more if they had the goals here,” said Thompson.
Thompson and her colleagues gathered data from that tournament, learning there was also another issue impacting her peers.
“Blue Hole Road is like a very busy road with [a] very small and narrow street, and it’s very hard for them to bike over here or walk over here,” she said.
Junior Nia Maddux found that info out after interning with the Civic Design Center back in January.
“There’s a lot of places around Nashville that don’t have great access to the community to get from place to place,” she said.
Maddux was able to examine Thompson’s work, do some more research, and discuss new options for how Blue Hole Road can be safer and help students access Antioch Park.
“A lot of the people on the Youth Design Team live in Antioch,” she said. “I think it’s important to keep in mind that it is their space as well.”
Melody Gibson, Education Director for the Civic Design Center, says she’s proud to see these students finding needs in their community and working to address them.
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“Their little $2,000 advocacy led to this really impactful long-term change, and that’s really the big goal,” she said. “It’s just a way to use your voice and speak up and hope that people catch on and notice.”
A need for more soccer goals has now led Gibson to work with Antioch Middle School students to design new crosswalks.
Thompson hopes this can inspire other students to see how they can work to make more meaningful changes across the city.
“You’re voice matters,” she said. “Your opinion matters. Everything you feel like matters, matters.”
Gibson says, pending approval from the Nashville Department of Transportation, the Civic Design Center will work with Antioch Middle School students to begin designing the new crosswalks that lead to Antioch Park in April.
Thompson says the next project they are working is will be called “Utopia.” The project will look at different ideas as to how they can market Nashville as a more kid and youth-friendly city.