Online Program

Youth as change agents for healthy neighborhood environments: The manchester photovoice project

Monday, November 4, 2013

Semra Aytur, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Management and Policy, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Rebecca Butcher, MS, MPH, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Center for Program Design and Evaluation at Dartmouth, Lebanon, NH
Cynthia Carlson, PhD, Department of Environmental Science, New England College, Henniker, NH
Karen Schifferdecker, PhD, MPH, Department of Community and Family Medicine, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI), Lebanon, NH
Richard Madol, Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Sara Fechner, Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Kamut Gabriel, Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Jenny Jing, Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Marginalization from decision-making processes mirrors the health disparities observed worldwide with respect to infrastructure investments, exposure to violence and environmental hazards, and rates of chronic disease. By enabling people to become change agents within their own communities, Participatory Action Research methods such as Photovoice can facilitate the co-creation of culturally relevant strategies to address the intersection of violence prevention and chronic disease prevention. The city of Manchester, NH, has implemented institutional policy changes to build cross-sector collaboration around issues of violence prevention, neighborhood revitalization, and active living. However, little is known about immigrant/refugee youth's perceptions of these issues. We conducted a Photovoice project to: 1) explore youth's perceptions of relationships between safety, active living, and healthy eating in the context of their daily lives; and 2) understand barriers/enablers of health in their neighborhoods. Fourteen adolescents (ages 13-19) were recruited to participate in a Photovoice project for six weeks (n=12 were from refugee resettlement families). Themes revealed by youth's photos and narratives included: 1) unhealthy indoor/outdoor home environments; 2) landlord-tenant conflicts; 3) violence in parks, schools, and neighborhoods; 4) advertisements for beer and cigarettes in areas where youth play; 5) the importance of youth leaders as change agents. The Photovoice process generated a community dialogue that allowed youth to voice their concerns and share their photos with community stakeholders through an art exhibit. Youth from the community are currently leading their own undergraduate research project to promote healthy home environments, in partnership with the health department.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the challengenges and opportunities of using Photovoice as an action research method in low-income/refugee communities. Describe how participatory action research methods such as Photovoice can support youth as change agents for healthy neighborhood environments.

Keyword(s): Refugees, Photovoice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the PI of a Community-Based Participatory Research study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson foundatoin to explore the intersection between healthy neighborhood environments, safety, and active living. The Photovoice project was a component of this CBPR study, which I directed. I have been involved in research and practice on policy, environment, and systems change for over 10 years.
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.