The decades since the earlier Growing Up in Cities studies occurred have brought tremendous changes to the public landscape and to the needs and desires of the young people that rely on them. Increases in population growth, shifts in the locations of these populations, increases in technological reliance, pressures due to climate change, and wide-spread racial disparities, are shaping how youth use and experience public spaces.
This study builds upon the premise that where you live has a marked impact on your health and wellbeing. Recent research has focused on the health disparities between persons living in different zip codes and that there is no one root cause of these disparities. Instead, the origin of the problem is highly complex and comprised of an intricate combination of determinants; including, but not limited to reduced access to healthy food options, lack of access to green spaces, poverty, and access to healthcare services. While other studies have begun to identify some of the environmental determinants of positive health outcomes, this project proposes to explore a broader range of environmental determinants specially related to neighborhood disparities and the well-being of young people.
We will use a participatory action approach that engages youth and adult partners in our efforts to answer questions including:
1) Does the physical environment of the local neighborhood reflect or exacerbate inequalities in health outcomes for youth and does it offer fewer opportunities for typically marginalized youth?
2) Do these youth perceive or experience their neighborhood physical environments as supportive of their interests and positive development?
3) Can the integration of youth and youth concerns contribute to increased positive development outcomes and to youth-inclusive models of community planning practice?