The system of regional parks and trails in the Twin Cities region protects valuable natural resources, preserves wildlife habitat, and offers opportunities to enjoy nature close to home.
Connecting teens with these outdoor opportunities contributes toward a healthy, equitable region and offers an opportunity to strengthen support for the Regional Park System in the future.
Young people of color in the Twin Cities region will account for 53% of residents under age 18 by 2040. Connecting these youth to the outdoors deserves high priority – for future support of the regional parks system and for providing equitable access to outdoor experiences.
Research by the Met Council has examined the needs and preferences of multicultural and multiracial youth, and identified potential opportunities for the park implementing agencies to pursue. The Met Council was lead partner of the research team, which included members of youth-serving community organizations, and professional staff of the park implementing agencies.
The project entailed engaging members of affected communities and involved an engagement process that connected youth organizations to the park implementing agencies. Project researchers used qualitative methods that included a multifaceted field experience, interview data, analysis of photos taken by youth, conversations with youth to validate the data, focus groups, and youth-led discussion groups.
The findings and recommendations cover a broad range of issues and preferences of youth and other community members, including learning outdoor skills, the issue of in-park racism and cultural climate of the parks, a broad range of park activities preferred by youth, and time constraints and transportation obstacles in accessing the parks.