Advocating for Environmental Changes to Increase Access to Parks: Engaging Promotoras and Youth Leaders

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Abstract

Access to physical activity opportunities are limited in underserved communities. Community-based programs can increase promotoras and youth leaders’ capacity to advocate for built environmental changes. Promotoras and youth leaders were trained on walkability assessment, park audits, and advocacy. The youth and promotoras from one church located adjacent to a park implemented a community survey, conducted walk audits, and engaged in consciousness-raising activities about environmental factors that affect communities. They also mobilized community members to advocate for a nearby park. Advocacy tactics included attending and making presentations at the City Council, planning meetings, organizing health fairs, and speaking to community members. The following changes were made at the park: removed overgrown plants, relocated storage container, increased park security (i.e., lighting, fencing), improved safety (i.e., covered sewer drain, sand lot removed), enhanced amenities (i.e., drinking fountain, bathroom, benches, tables), improved pedestrian safety in park (i.e., leveled the old and added new walking paths), and improved children’s play area (i.e., new play equipment, fencing). The current program highlights factors that contributed to park changes and challenges in increasing access to parks. Furthermore, the current study notes steps that other programs can take to make environmental changes.

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