Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2022


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Alison Colbert

Committee Member

Karen Jakub

Committee Member

Matthew Browning


urban greenspace, parks, adolescent, emotional regulation, mental health


Introduction: Greenspace is beneficial for improving adolescent mental health, yet we still do not understand the connection between the built environment and subjective mental wellbeing. We also lack understanding of how this population uses greenspace and how they feel when in it. Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was threefold: to understand why adolescents use greenspace, to identify how they use greenspace, and to explore how they feel when they are in greenspace. Methods: participated in a focused ethnography that utilized auto photography for photo elicitation. Braun and Clark's (2006), six phases of thematic analysis were used to guide data collection and analysis. Results: Eleven adolescents between ages 12 and 18 who resided in and around Newark, NJ, were recruited. Three themes were identified from the data: 1) A tranquil space in an unsafe place; 2) Park means family connection with burgeoning independence;and 3) My park: Sense of ownership and responsibility. Conclusions: This study deepens the understanding between subjective mental wellbeing and urban greenspace exposure. The accepted responsibility that adolescents voiced toward maintaining “my park” strengthens community cohesion, detailing the importance of youth input during urban planning. Clinical Relevance: Implications from this study suggest that environmental interventions may help ameliorate an ongoing mental health care crisis. Healthcare providers should consider the built environment as another approach to promoting mental health.



Additional Citations

Lyons, R., Colbert, A., Browning, M., & Jakub, K. (2021). Urban greenspace use among adolescents and young adults: An integrative review. Public Health Nursing, 39(3), 700–718.