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Central Standard

What Kansas City Third-Graders Think A Community Needs To Thrive

Sylvia Maria Gross

We talk a lot about community and neighborhoods here at KCUR 89.3, so when it came to our attention that some Kansas City third-graders were investigating the same subjects, it piqued our interest. 

Miss Allie Heemstra and Mrs. Valerie Diebel’s classes at the Crossroads Academy (a public charter school in downtown Kansas City, Missouri) have studied history, visited 10 neighborhoods from Waldo to Pendleton Heights, talked to “change-makers” and read about community movements.

They also developed a survey to poll Kansas Citians on what they think it takes to make a community thrive.

Here’s what some of the students themselves think after doing all this research:

Isa Soulliere: I would probably say that volunteers are pretty important to a community because they can help build stuff like community gardens and they can help pay taxes [for] the parks and the gardens.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Asha Gardner: If you have a park in your neighborhood, then it will get kids outside to get some exercise.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Ashley Aguilar-Morales: I think a thriving neighborhood should have change-makers and helpful people.

Credit Allie Heemstra / Crossroads Academy

Lucas McGee: I think a thriving neighborhood should have diversity because diversity can help you. If you want to have a party, you can party different ways and learn different things about other people. And sometimes other people can help you open things that you can know about your own self that you didn’t even know that you could do.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Izrael Hollinger: I think what makes a community thrive is people going, helping each other out, doing stuff that doesn’t leave their community a big trash pile. If there’s a vacant house you could go in that and take care of it for a while, and then go back to your house.


Cashlee Muldrew: If there’s somebody older, you could, like I always help my elders. You could do that.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Justice Christensen: What makes the neighborhood thrive is they take care of little problems before it gets big. And, they try and keep their community safe and whenever something is wrong they don’t just stand there and watch or laugh, they will help each other.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Bishop Williams: I think a thriving neighborhood has safety.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Isabella White: What makes a neighborhood safe is that lots of people are friends and family. If someone cuts themselves with glass, or someone didn’t feel safe in their house because they had a broken window or something and it wasn’t there before, maybe those friends and family can come and help them.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Hannah Kearney: I think what a community needs most to thrive is probably safety again, because … sometimes it can keep you alive. And a thriving community would keep people alive. And a neglected [community] might not keep you alive as much as a thriving community would. 

Sylvia Maria Gross is a reporter and editor at KCUR, and senior producer of the show Central Standard. You can reach her at and @pubradiosly.

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.