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Family Housing Provides Unique Childhood Experience

Thirteen-year-old Daniel Uribe is a different story.

For Uribe, sites like the Pit and Franklin Street are as normal a part of everyday scenery as they are for any college student.

Uribe, whose father is a UNC student, has lived on campus at Odum Village, the student family housing, for four years. Growing up on UNC's campus provides children like Uribe with a unique experience.

Odum Village, located just between South Campus and UNC Hospitals, gives its young residents a taste of a few everyday college experiences.

"We go to the computer labs a lot," Uribe said. "Also, the Student Stores have a lot of cool stuff."

T.K. Shadreck, also 13, said he likes to play the video games in the basement of the Student Union. "It seems like there are a lot of things to do at UNC besides schoolwork," he said.

Going to restaurants and businesses on Franklin Street also is a fun activity for kids his age, Shadreck said. He added that when he and friends do not walk to Franklin Street, they make use of the U bus.

While older children in Odum Village appreciate the attractions of the nearby campus, younger children benefit from having plenty of friends close by.

Resident Jill Casey said that for her 6-year-old son, James Thomas, the best part of Odum Village is the kids.

"It's definitely a good environment for kids to grow up in," said Casey, who lives with her two children and husband, a dental student. "They'll be shocked when we move into a real neighborhood and there aren't kids everywhere."

Four families share one building, which gives 11-year-old Julie Gousseva and her friends the chance to play together more often than a traditional neighborhood would allow.

"There are trees, parks, kids. ... It's a good place to live," Gousseva said. Her father also is a dental student.

Important to these unique qualities of Odum Village is the neighborhood's ability to seclude its residents from some aspects of UNC.

"(Odum Village is) pretty much separate. We don't get much of the advertisements that other people on campus do, just the kid-oriented stuff," said resident Martha Cummings, a mother of two, whose husband is enrolled in UNC's School of Medicine.

Residents said they feel this autonomy in Odum Village is enhanced by a friendly community.

"In a regular apartment building, not everyone is going to the same place," Shadreck said. "Here, it is friendlier, instead of everyone going in their different directions and no one caring."

Another characteristic of Odum Village that distinguishes it from most communities is its cultural diversity. Parents and children alike said they value this aspect of their neighborhood.

Each building has a community living room that allows for get-togethers between residents. "We have picnics, and people from different backgrounds bring different kinds of food," Uribe said.

Although Odum Village is a separate entity from the UNC campus, it will be included in upcoming plans for University expansion.

The Development Plan, UNC's eight-year plan for growth, calls for family housing to be moved farther from campus.

But younger residents now are focused on taking advantage of Odum Villages unique opportunities.

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"I like it here," Uribe said. "It's great that there's a lot of extra space here, because the little kids who have a lot of energy and stuff can run around."

The Features Editor can be reached at features.unc.edu.

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