- Kimberlee Douglas
- Russell McIntire
- Valerie Gay
Research Project Description
Park in a Truck (PiaT) is a green-space development initiative that helps communities transform available open space into low-cost, fast-turnaround and highly engaged green spaces. PiaT has expanded to include the Park Ambassador (PA) program, a paid internship engaging youth to influence positive change in their communities through educational curricula and by planning events, leading community arts and clean up days and performing maintenance at their park, advancing their education/employment trajectories.
In the community-engaged research project, Power Tools: A Youth Focused Community Engaged Research Approach, we will measure the social, mental health, and community impacts of the PiaT process, specifically around self-esteem and negative stereotyping among black urban youth (6-8th grade). We will explore how, and to what extent, participating in a PA Program that teaches 11-13 year-olds the value of their neighborhood, the value of nature and the value of their input and participation in planning their parks and community, can combat negative racial socialization and boost self-esteem and mental health.
While our methods will be co-developed together with community partners, we anticipate utilizing a mixed-methods cohort study that will measure longitudinal changes in the social and mental health of teenagers in the PA program, compared to other neighborhood teenagers. We will collect both quantitative and qualitative data throughout the 3-year study, using research tools such as ecological momentary assessments, surveys, and interviews. Our multidisciplinary team merges the expertise of an influential and trusted community-based arts and nonprofit leader (Valerie V. Gay, CFP®, Fortress Arts), a landscape architect able to connect youth to nature (Kimberlee Douglas, RLA, ASLA, LEED GA, Thomas Jefferson University), and a public health researcher/population health partner knowledgeable about local needs (Russ McIntire, PhD, MPH, Lehigh University).
Kimberlee Douglas, RLA, ASLA, LEED GA is a Professor and Director of the Landscape Architecture program and Lab for Urban and Social Innovation (LUSI) at Thomas Jefferson University. Prof. Douglas is designing and implementing green corridors for children to travel and play safely in Philadelphia neighborhoods, and studying their health impacts.
Dr. Russ McIntire, PhD, MPH Associate Professor, Lehigh University College of Health, is a social epidemiologist who researches the influence of place on health. His research identifies the social, behavioral, and geographic factors that impact people’s health where they live, work, and play. His major topical interests include healthy parks, gardening and greening interventions, mental health, and cancer outcomes.
Valerie V. Gay, CFP®, is a creative entrepreneur, artist, and consultant with 20+ years leadership experience in nonprofit administration. Her current roles include Deputy Director of Audience Engagement + Chief Experience Officer for the Barnes Foundation, Founder of Fortress Arts, a community-rooted arts and development organization, and consulting executive director of Empowered CDC, where Ms. Gay has elevated voices within the SW Philadelphia community of Kingsessing.