Youth & Parks: A Participant Action Research Project

Learning how youth think about and enjoy nature in regional parks

To date, no study has been conducted that informs policy about the needs, motivations, and use barriers for youth to access the Regional Park System. Young people’s access to the Regional Parks System is crucial to reach the goals of the 2040 Regional Parks Policy Plan. Parks and open space offer young people multiple health and recreational benefits. Further, the Regional Park System depends on ongoing public support for the Parks and Trails System: today’s youth will create this future shared dedication to preserve high-quality natural resources.

Study questions

A research collaborative of youth-serving nonprofit organizations, youth and parent/guardian participants, university students, and Council research staff will generate and gather data using qualitative methods, such as in-park focus groups and observational field study. This study will explore access, priorities, and barriers experienced by youth. 


Project outcomes

  • Creating fun and well-being for youth through enjoyment of the Regional Park System

  • Building equitable youth and community use with the Regional Park System

  • Providing park implementing agencies with credible, needed data

  • Valuing community expertise through innovative methods, compensation, sharing credit for work, and decision-making power in the process across the team

  • Building youth capacity for civic engagement and research

  • Building a diverse pipeline of future researchers

  • Spreading the word about what youth think about and experience in the Regional Park System

Learn more

Read the Youth & Parks Research Proposal (pdf) or learn more from this Youth & Parks slide deck, presented July 9, 2019 to the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission.