A Walk in The Park: What’s Community Got to Do with It? A Comparative Analysis of Adults’ Perceptions of Sense of Community at Sentinel Peak and Tumamoc Hill, Tucson, Arizona
AuthorLewis, Deanna Lyn
Public Open Spaces
Sense of Community
System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC)
AdvisorThomson, Cynthia A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPublic spaces such as parks can be associated with greater physical activity among community members. Physical activity within public spaces can be assessed with validated tools such as the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC). However, the instrument is labor-intensive to administer. Novel approaches, such as rigorous training for student-supported data collection, can assure ample sampling to assess differences in physical activity among public spaces. Further, promoting walking and walkable communities in public open spaces has been shown to increase physical activity levels for U.S. adults. Self-efficacy and social connections are two behavioral constructs known to improve leisure time physical activity and ultimately improve health outcomes. We conducted a quasi-experimental study using pre/post surveys with a convenience sample of men and women ages 18 years and older identified at a public park (Sentinel Peak) and a public open space (Tumamoc Hill). The study investigated adult users’ perceptions of sense of community, self-efficacy, and health and wellbeing. After identifying Sentinel Peak as the site with a lower SOPARC score, a walking intervention was developed to promote physical activity at this site; Tumamoc Hill served as the comparison site. The intervention group consisted of adults who met once a week to walk for 30 – 60 minutes over the course of 16 weeks. The comparison group consisted of adults from Tumamoc Hill who, based on our earlier research, demonstrated on average, a pattern of walking 1-2 times per week for 30-60 minutes. A comparative analysis of sense of community, self-efficacy for physical activity, and health and wellbeing was conducted between the two sites. Change in physical activity between the two sites was not measured, nor was it a hypothesis for this research. A total of 33 participants (Sentinel Peak, n=13; Tumamoc Hill, n=20) completed pre and post surveys. The majority of the participants were women (women, n=25; men, n=8); 79% were white, 15% were Hispanic, 3% were Native American, and 3% identified as other. The overall mean age was similar across sites (50.8 years at Sentinel Peak and 49.4 years at Tumamoc Hill). The post-intervention results show a statistically significant difference (p=<0.0001) in participants’ perceptions of sense of community between Sentinel Peak and Tumamoc Hill. At study end, there were no differences between the site participants’ perceptions of self-efficacy or health and wellbeing. The findings of the study suggest that participation in a walking group may promote sense of community among walking group members and that an adult’s perceptions of sense of community may be a determinant for engagement in physical activity, such as walking, within public parks and public open spaces.
Degree ProgramGraduate College