Drs. Terry Huang, Lorna Thorpe, and Katarzyna Wyka, all professors at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, were recently awarded a $2,956,000 five-year grant from the National Cancer institute/NIH. This grant will evaluate the long-term effects of a citywide public park redesign and renovation initiative on residents’ physical activity, psychosocial and mental health, and community well-being.
The association between parks, as a key attribute of the built environment, and physical activity is inconclusive. This project employs a natural experiment design to assess the impact of a New York City Department of Parks and Recreation park redesign and renovation initiative, on physical activity park usage, psychosocial and mental health, and community wellbeing. The project will use a longitudinal design with matched controls. NYC Parks has identified 134 parks with extreme capital needs and will renovate them in waves. In late 2016, the first wave of parks will be closed for renovation which will take approximately one year. Intervention parks have been matched to a control group of socio-economically similar park neighborhoods that will not be renovated during the study. Outcomes from this project will inform future policies addressing health and the built environment and provide strategies for reducing health disparities.