September 19, 2022

Thanks to Tech, Families Are Finding Fun in Pomona’s Green Spaces

COMING TOGETHER: Started by three dedicated mothers, De Colores offers fun and activities for families with young children in Pomona. Now SCGH doctoral student Lucie Leung-Gurung is helping families find these events through her use of StoryMap technology.

“I took a leap,” Lucie Leung-Gurung said about finding sure footing as a doctoral student who will graduate this academic year from CGU’s School of Community and Global Health.

“Public health is in the spotlight now,” she added, referring to the upheaval created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everything is so restricted, so it’s an honor to be part of the change that’s affecting families in the community.”

For Leung-Gurung, that “change” is linked to the ArcGIS StoryMap (in English and Spanish) that she created for the De Colores Program in Pomona.

De Colores was started by three self-described moms (Leticia Casillas Sanchez, Lidia Manzanares, and Juanita Preciado-Becerra) who wanted to address (among other disparities) the absence of green spaces in the City of Pomona and a lack of programming for small children. De Colores is a puppetry roadshow that visits a different location in Pomona each Saturday.

The program is free and offers storytime, music, movement, art, nature, and nutrition for families with children of all abilities up to age five while engaging families in safe, green, and outdoor spaces in their neighborhood.

Technology brings Pomona families

and De Colores together.

Leung-Gurung’s engagement with the De Colores Program involved developing a web-based interactive application that maps out various green spaces (like the “pin drops” on Google Maps, which Leung-Gurung’s application links to) in Pomona, in addition to providing picture files that bring those spaces more dramatically up close and personal with a click for anyone interested in visiting them.

Before she developed the StoryMap application, Leung-Gurung said that De Colores would travel to different green space locations in Pomona, but “you couldn’t go to the city website and find out which park it was,” she explained. “The information existed on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram but there wasn’t a dedicated website that put the sites together in a map setting for visitors to visualize where the park was located and what it looked like.”

Leung-Gurung said that the StoryMap with its pin drops and thumbnail pictures, in essence, tells the story of De Colores – location-wise, where it’s been — and in doing so creates awareness regarding those locations.

“We also created a version of the StoryMap in Spanish,” she says, “because more than 80 percent of the population in Pomona is Latinx.”

SCGH doctoral student Lucie Leung-Gurung

A Real-Life Blessing

As an SCGH student, Leung-Gurung is interested in the data side of public health and ”how that can inform decision-making not just at large institutions but also at the community level so that people not only have ‘ownership,’ but awareness of what is happening vis-à-vis certain issues and how they can use data to leverage the power to make changes.”

Leung-Gurung considers it “a blessing” to be able to apply her skills to a real-life project that is affecting the lives of families and children and to facilitate access to outdoor programming when those opportunities were scarce during the pandemic.

“Oftentimes,” she said, “students might think learning is all theoretical and confined to the classroom, but no, you can put your skills to practical use, really!”

As her work demonstrates, it’s just a question of mapping it all out!