Neighborhood Assessment of the Environment for Physical Activity: Engaging Adolescents Within an Under-resourced Community

Melissa Bopp, Mallika Bose, Lucas D. Elliott, Natisha Washington, Paula Needer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Physical activity (PA) participation has many benefits; however, rates of participation remain low, particularly among underserved populations which may face low PA participation due to having poorer quality of built environment factors which is a known influence on activity levels. Objectives: To train adolescents to conduct environmental neighborhood assessments and neighborhood resident surveys of with the end goal of encouraging advocacy for neighborhood improvements. Methods: This mixed methods, prospective design study was focused in a low-income, under-resourced, predominately African American neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Adolescents (n = 14; 13–17 years) in a community partner’s youth program were trained to conduct neighborhood environmental assessments and distributed neighborhood resident surveys. Results of these assessments were shared with community partners to create strategies for improvement. These adolescents participated in a focus group following the environmental assessments to reflect on their findings and the process. The neighborhood resident survey (n = 123) assessed demographics, perceptions of the neighborhood, PA participation and health outcomes. Results: Neighborhood assessments noted and resident surveys noted many barriers to activity (i.e., poor sidewalks, unsafe areas). Results were informative for our community partner to advocate for neighborhood improvements. Focus group results indicated that the adolescents understood how their neighborhood environment could influence PA and how the findings could be utilized to make improvements in their neighborhood. Conclusions: Adolescents can be successfully trained/edu-cated to follow a research protocol for assessing the built environment for PA using a variety of measurement tools, while additionally gaining insight towards neighborhood environment advocacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-677
Number of pages13
JournalProgress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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