244194 Youth driven advocacy and health promotion efforts to promote parks and playgrounds and encourage physical activity

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 9:25 AM

Flavia Perea, PhD, MSEd , Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Rose Gonzalez, BA , Groundwork Lawrence, Lawrence, MA
Linda Sprague Martinez, PhD , Community Health Program, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Youth from Lawrence, MA were recruited as research assistants for a study of the quality and utilization of parks/playgrounds in the city. They learned about parks, physical activity (PA), health and obesity in Lawrence. Through print materials and presentations, the youth engaged in health promotion and advocacy activities to promote positive attitudes and healthier behaviors among residents, while advocating for local policy change. We found this was a powerful youth-driven effort to spread-the-word about the benefits of PA, encourage residents to use PA resources, and a compelling advocacy tool to better the quality of parks/playgrounds so people use them. Lawrence has the highest obesity rate in Massachusetts, and is particularly high among children/youth. The city has identified increasing PA as important for mitigating obesity, especially among children/youth. The city has prioritized the improvement of parks/playgrounds to meet the needs of children/youth, and is exploring how local policy can increase utilization of outdoor spaces to increase PA among residents and improve the city's health. Additionally, it is seeking ways to engage youth in community health efforts, and exploring how community engagement approaches can improve the public health, particularly among young people. Although there are opportunities for collaboration between government and non-profits, relationships between them are often wrought with tension. However, as we present, it is possible to develop collaborations with mutually beneficial goals that are in-line with departmental responsibilities and organizational missions. Our approach illustrates the efficacy of this synergistic strategy to create a healthier environment and improve the public health.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education

Learning Objectives:
Learning objectives: 1. Describe the CBPR research approach and program model, including strategies for collaboration between local government, non-profit entities, and academic researchers, as well as the relationship between the youth’s involvement and their engagement in public health improvement efforts. 2. Examine the health promotion and advocacy efforts, including tools and materials developed, and the processes for developing and disseminating them. 3. Discuss youth recruitment and retention strategies, as well as strategies for ensuring the youth’s active engagement throughout the project.

Keywords: Community Health, Participatory Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Flavia C. Peréa, PhD, MSEd Tufts University School of Medicine Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.