Bamidele Idaomi and Nicolas Miranda now have a better sense of what all goes into urban planning.

The two Harvester Christian Academy students were among the recent graduates from the Model Atlanta Regional Commission (MARC) youth leadership program.

Idaomi is a senior and Miranda is a junior at the school.

“It was a real helpful program that gave me an opportunity to see how communities are developed,” Miranda said. “It really opened my eyes at how complex region planning is.”

The program was virtual because of the pandemic.

Students learned about real-world issues like housing affordability, water usage, and the impact of limited transportation options during the six-month program.

They heard from Atlanta officials and business leaders about their reflections on ways the region can serve diverse populations.

“It just showed me how much work and planning goes on behind the scenes in things we take for granted everyday,” Idaomi said. “To view it and watch it is really an eye-opening experience.”

Idaomi plans on majoring in economics next school year at American University.

He said the experience with MARC was helpful in understanding the importance of regional planning.

“It gives you a greater appreciation for your community,” Idaomi said.

Both Idaomi and Miranda submitted an application to the MARC program last spring.

Participants met online for six months with one meeting per month. There is no cost to participate in the program.

“I commend the work and collaboration these young leaders put into the MARC program,” said Kerry Armstrong, ARC board chair. “The insights they bring to the challenges facing our region is refreshing, and make me feel optimistic about our future.”

Idaomi and Miranda said they have an interest in community involvement and look for ways to improve their communities.

“MARC really opened my eyes to the complexity of regional planning and how it can be used to improve people’s lives in myriad ways,” said Miranda. “It’s very worthwhile if you want to learn why metro Atlanta has the problems it does and consider what we can do to alleviate them.”