An ambitious, years-long study conducted by Vanderbilt University is tracking public school children across Nashville, asking them about life in their neighborhoods. The first year revealed that many do not feel their neighbors trust, or support one another.
The study is looking at public school children in third through 12th grades over three years.
The lead researcher, Maury Nation, chose to focus on students because of what they expose about the city and its families.
“The school district in some ways is the shock absorber for social problems,” Nation said.
Some of the questions for the study grew out of a smaller survey of children in East and North Nashville, which asked them to reflect on their gentrifying neighborhoods. Most said they felt alienated by their changing neighborhoods, or even that they felt their neighborhoods were being “taken away from them,” Nation said.
This Vanderbilt study hopes to tap into that same idea, but on a much broader scale: How is the city’s boom resonating with children? (Editor’s note: Several of Vanderbilt University’s departments are business supporters of WPLN.)
So far, the new data reveal that large numbers of students face significant challenges — ranging from safety to transportation, to a sense of connection with their neighborhood.