Home Music intervention NIH awards CUNY SPH team $6.7 million to design parks-based strategies to improve mental wellness

NIH awards CUNY SPH team $6.7 million to design parks-based strategies to improve mental wellness


NEW YORK, September 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Public parks play a vital role in promoting community engagement and supporting the well-being of nearby residents, but their impact depends not only on physical dimensions but also on social dimensions, such as perceived safety and availability of community programs.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a team of researchers from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) a five-year contract, $6.7 million grant to design and implement programmatic strategies to improve the social environment of neighborhoods by taking advantage of newly renovated public parks in low-income neighborhoods New York City neighborhoods.

In New York CityAs part of the Equity-Based Community Parks Initiative, 64 neighborhood parks in low-income communities with a high concentration of Black and Latino residents have been redesigned and renovated since 2017, providing a unique opportunity to work with neighborhood and city partners in a community-engaged community intervention to leverage new park facilities to improve the social dimension of these neighborhoods, as a means of improving health outcomes at the community level.

The researchers, led by Professor Terry TK Huang of CUNY SPH, will conduct a hybrid randomized efficacy trial in eight neighborhoods to determine the impact on health-related quality of life and mental health in community level of community intervention that allows local actors to design and implement programmatic strategies in newly renovated parks.

The team will use Human Centered Design (HCD), a process methodology for problem solving and innovation, in an asset-based approach to collaborate with local partners. Specifically, each community will design a primarily physical activity strategy that promotes inclusive adult reach and participation and a primarily social strategy – such as music, outdoor market, park beautification groups – that enhances interaction and social relationships. Unlike previous public health research, the research team will not prescribe park-specific activities; rather, the community will have the opportunity to design them according to what fits the local context. The research team will provide each community with financial resources and basic services on formative research, design, rapid prototyping and testing.

The marriage of HCD with community engagement will result in community-owned park strategies that align with the true values, needs and assets identified by the community and improve the social infrastructure of neighborhoods, researchers say, leading to a lasting impact on health and reducing health disparities at the community level.

“Parks are essential to the engagement and vibrancy of neighborhoods, which in turn contribute to the well-being of the community,” says Dr. Huang. “This study is important both conceptually and methodologically. It moves health disparities research from community participation to community-centered research, where solutions are community-driven and needs-based. , authentic community values ​​and culture. We will also be able to empirically test, for the first time, the impact of HCD as a community innovation process on health outcomes at the community level.”

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