Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2017

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

John A. Steward, MPH

Second Advisor

Kymberle L. Sterling, DrPH


INTRODUCTION: Rates of chronic disease continue to increase every year, affecting one in every two U.S. adults. Healthy lifestyle behaviors can help prevent chronic disease. Parks have a vast opportunity to contribute to public health by providing places and resources for people to get active. Despite all the health opportunities that parks provide, research finds that park users do not entirely capitalize on the potential health benefits of parks because most park users participate in sedentary recreational activities. As a support system for their local park, established park organizations like Friends of the Park have the capacity to engage the community in health activities and improve the health of residents.

AIM: The Friends of the Park program is a network of park groups in Metro Atlanta that have a goal of improving their local parks and neighborhoods. The purpose of this capstone project was to create a framework for the Friends of the Park groups to utilize when looking to add health activities to their agenda.

METHODS: This project involved consulting Park Pride and Friends of the Park groups to build a health activity resource guide. A detailed literature review was completed, and meetings were held with each group to gain feedback on the framework.

RECOMMENDATIONS: 1) Park Pride should encourage Friends of the Park groups to incorporate new health activities into their agenda. 2) Park Pride should offer health activity grants to ease the burden of cost when considering new activities. 3) Park Pride should build on this program plan framework by collecting information from groups already participating in activities.

DISCUSSION: Friends of the Park groups have a wide variety of needs and populations, and therefore should choose health activities that interest members of the group and the surrounding community. These activities will serve to improve the health of the area and improve the social ties of the neighborhood, creating a better place to live for everyone.