Park Spaces and the Human Experience
In an article in Nature and Culture, published research led by University of Maryland kinesiology PhD student, Eric A. Stone, and assistant professor of kinesiology, Jennifer D. Roberts, describes the relationship between park spaces and the human experience.
An examination of existing park analysis tools has shown that by focusing on particular material conditions, built environment and active living scholars have set aside other characteristics, namely, those that consider the human experience, as a separate concern from the focus of these tools.
The research, which specifically examined how the Community Park Audit Tool assessed physical and human elements of the built environment, was produced through an independent study led by Stone and under the advisement of Roberts.
Researchers also highlighted the historic conceptualization of parks as spaces for breathing fresh air or getting a taste for the country, but also emphasized how it is just as important to note that a main rationale for parks was to incorporate exclusionary policies that separated people of color from wealthier white city residents.
Stone concludes that as both scholars and human beings, it is imperative to think about how our research can impact the public health. By embracing a more equitable, inclusive, and body-centered focus in park analysis, we can create parks as the inclusive spaces we aim for them to be.
Stone was recently promoted to candidacy and will focus his dissertation research on exploring how and to what ends sport-based programs are provided to underserved urban youth and their communities in Baltimore and cities like it.
Roberts’ research focuses the relationship of built and social environments with physical activity and health. She directs the Public Health Outcomes and Effects of the Built Environment (PHOEBE) Laboratory at the School of Public Health.