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Kids build better world at Immokalee library

IMMOKALEE – Three high-rise cities were built in Immokalee the week of June 5 as kids learned

Hayden Billie-Alvarado works on building her team’s version of New York City at the Diane Yzaguirre Memorial in Immokalee as part of the Build a Better World project through the Collaborative Summer Library Program. (Beverly Bidney photo)

about architecture and city planning and put their knowledge to use at the Diane Yzaguirre Memorial Library.

Three teams of young developers transformed cardboard boxes with scissors, markers and crayons into towering cities with all the amenities of the brick and mortar counterparts. Schools, banks, hotels, stores, streets with stoplights and vehicles, post offices, museums and, of course, libraries were represented in the cardboard models. One included a sports stadium, another had a jail and the third’s hotel had a roof-top pool.

The idea for the Build a Better World project came from the Collaborative Summer Library Program, whose mission is to provide a unified summer reading theme along with professional art and materials for libraries to provide high-quality summer reading programs. Themes from previous years included athletics, heroes and science.

(Beverly Bidney photo)

“We want to keep kids reading over the summer because they can lose part of what they’ve learned during the school year. It’s as simple as that,” said David Blackard, library program supervisor. “We try to find things that will be of interest to them so they’ll develop a love of reading and learning.”

Immokalee library assistant Delores Lopez helped the children divide into three teams, supplied the materials and familiarized them with architecture using a few books including “The Future Architects Handbook” by Barbara Beck and “The Story of Buildings” by Patrick Dillon.

“They are very creative; this opens their minds,” said Lopez. “It’s a collaborative project, so they learned to work together.”

The project took all week and when they were completed, the teams presented their cities to their peers. They named their cities, showed off the buildings and told how many people lived there. OG City, built by an all boys team, had about 20,000 residents. Unicorn City, with its 50,000 residents, included a Seminole School. The third city, dubbed New York City, had somewhere between 1,526 and

Immokalee boys explain features of their city, OG City. (Beverly Bidney photo)

99 million people, apparently a census had yet to be conducted.

“Kids are an enthusiastic, yet hard audience,” Blackard said. “You hope you pick something they like, but you just never know.”

Build a Better World appeared to be a good choice; through the process, the kids learned the value of teamwork and creativity. Now that they had designed a city, many of the kids said they would look at Immokalee a little bit differently from now on.

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at

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