Empathy Walk

Experience the neighbourhood from other points of view

Activity Type : Understand
Participant Audience : Residents

In this activity, assign people roles or characters (see the character samples in the Resources section) and facilitate a group walk. As you walk around the neighbourhood, prompt people to think about the mobility constraints the person they are role playing may experience. Allow them to make notes or comments on a printed base map. Facilitate a debrief discussion afterwards.

What makes this tool valuable?

Different people have differing experiences of mobility and safety as they travel through their neighbourhoods. Understanding these different experiences can build equity and empathy. It can also help identify accessibility concerns and infrastructure gaps.

Image of people with different experiences of mobility taking a walk at different times of the day
Tips & tricks
  1. Lived experience is valuable. If possible, invite someone with lived experiences of mobility challenges, and let them share their perspective.
  2. Think about the weather. Facilitating this activity in icy or rainy weather can augment mobility constraints, and provide valuable perspective.
  3. Consider planning the walk in the evening. This can highlight the experience of travelling through the neighbourhood in the dark, which may pose additional mobility or safety concerns.