Previous research has shown that access to green spaces (i.e. parks, community gardens) promotes mental renewal, engagement in outdoor physical activity, and socialization in neighborhoods. Nevertheless, access to green spaces tends to be limited in urban communities, such as Philadelphia, where there are many vacant and unkempt spaces that have the potential to be converted into nature parks. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived potential impact of an urban nature park design on aspects of health, well-being, and social cohesion within a Philadelphia urban community. A mixed methods study design was used, which consisted of surveys and intercept interviews conducted on South Cecil Street in Philadelphia. The collected survey data consisted of Likert scale, categorical, and open-ended questions that were used to explore the topics of neighborhood safety, aesthetics, health/outdoor activity, and neighborhood connectedness. Intercept interviews focused on exploring participants’ experiences growing up in the neighborhood, changes over time, and neighborhood connectedness. Results showed that community members predominantly believe a nature park creates a safe space, especially for children, that can improve exposure to nature and engagement in outdoor play, improve overall health and well-being as a source of relaxation, and increase social cohesion within their community. The knowledge obtained from this study indicates that further research is needed into understanding the impact of green spaces on stress management and how green spaces could potentially be used in the future as a form of nature-assisted therapy to address health issues caused by stress.
Grugan, MPHc, Jennifer; Brawer, MPH, PhD, Rickie; and Douglas, RLA, Kim, "Using Green Spaces to Improve Neighborhood Social Cohesion and Overall Well-Being: A Philadelphia Urban Community’s Perspective" (2018). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 239.