- Pooja Tandon, MD, MPH, AB
- Kathleen Wolf, PhD, MLA
- Cary Simmons, MEM
Research Project Description
Recent and compelling research indicates that access to parks and green space can promote the health and well-being of individuals of all ages. The public health implications of better park access include increased physical activity, decreased obesity, reduced stress, and improved mental health. Beyond promoting healthy behaviors and outcomes, parks offer opportunities for communities to gather and build stronger connections. Currently, millions of Americans live without access to a park within a ½ mile of their home. Our proposed research is rooted in the propositions that urban nearby nature can deliver important benefits to lower-income communities, and that the design and development process must be collaborative, community-driven, and be premised on a broad definition of health and wellbeing. Our study will use a community-engagement process to study the impact of increasing access to a park using a Trust for Public Land (TPL) supported green schoolyard initiative in Washington state. In partnership with the Tacoma Public School District and the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma, TPL has launched “Tacoma Green Schoolyards,” an initiative to promote public access to school properties and to pilot schoolyard renovations in neighborhoods where residents do not have access to parks within a 10-minute walk of their homes. We will use a pre-post longitudinal study design with a comparison site, and use both quantitative and qualitative methods. Specific outcomes of interest will be identified through engagement with the community and could include measures related to physical health, mental health, academic performance, social/community factors, participatory design effectiveness, and environmental attitudes. Results from the proposed research can potentially inform the policies and programs of decision makers including school district officials, parks planners and managers, and healthcare providers and researchers.
Pooja Tandon, MD, MPH, AB
Dr. Tandon is a pediatrician and researcher at the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Associate Professor at the University of Washington. Her research interests include exploring social and environmental determinants of children’s health, with a special focus on promoting healthy behaviors such as physical activity.
Kathleen Wolf, PhD, MLA
Dr. Wolf is a social scientist at the University of Washington (Seattle), where she investigates people's perceptions and behaviors with regard to urban landscapes (open space, urban forestry, and natural systems). Her work is grounded in the principles of environmental psychology. Dr. Wolf uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess and evaluate public perceptions and preferences, with a recent focus on human health response.
Cary Simmons, MEM
Mr. Simmons is a landscape architect and community advocate at The Trust for Public Land, and his areas of special expertise include community outreach, creative placemaking, and park design. Cary’s work is rooted in the belief that knowledge of place is local and that the strongest community development strategies begin from a place of community strength, pride, and culture.