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Group of White and Black people listening to music outdoors in a park
Images on this page show community engagement at three parks in Philadelphia where RPTM researchers work.

Who We Are

The Community Health and Well-Being research group are committed to scientific and community-engaged scholarship that promotes equitable access to leisure and enjoyment of park and recreation services.

drum line parade at Bartram's Garden park in Philadelphia

We view community health and well-being at a systems-level to include individual human health and the health of whole communities and environments.

Our work occurs in neighborhoods, camps, schools, homes, and in sport, recreation, and leisure venues. We use developmental, ecological, and social justice approaches to understand the causes and solutions to societal issues related to community health and well-being.

Our group comprises faculty at Penn State's University Park, Abington, and Greater Allegheny campuses, and our work intersects with other research groups across RPTM and Penn State.

6,129
local parks in Pennsylvania alone

Group Expertise

We work to understand and facilitate improvements in health and well-being for individuals, communities, and environments across numerous recreation contexts. Our research topics include:

  • Local officials’ priorities and decisions regarding park and recreation funding/policies - Andrew Mowen
  • Adolescent and young adult physical activity and out-of-school time programs - Jennifer Agans
  • Justice-oriented activities in out-of-school time programs that promote and foster healthy development for all youth and their communities - Katrina Black Reed
  • Strategies for leisure education and inclusion of people encountering barriers to leisure - John Dattilo
Dance performance at a park

RPTM researchers are working with this project at three parks in Philadelphia to create spaces where people of all backgrounds can come together to share common experiences.  

The Reimagining the Civic Commons project, launched in 2015, is investing in public spaces like parks to revitalize neighborhoods and deepen civic engagement.

Read more about Drs. Andrew Mowen and Jacob Benfield's research in Philadelphia parks, or contact specificemail@psu.edu with specific questions. 

Future Directions and Implications

A man fishing on a dock at Bartram's Garden

We conduct research that contributes to improved health and well-being for people, human communities, and the natural world. We contribute to a more socially just and sustainable world by demonstrating the interrelatedness of individual, environmental, and societal contributors to health and well-being.

Our Experts

Click below to learn more about our faculty and postdoctoral researchers or to see who our graduate students are. 

Suzy and Jim Broadhurst
Alumni Spotlight
Golf Teaching and Research Center will be named in honor of Suzy and Jim Broadhurst

A new gift from alumni Suzy and Jim Broadhurst will support the Penn State Golf Teaching and Research Center (GTRC) with research and programming and the Professional Golf Management program with scholarships. In recognition of their giving, the center will be named in their honor.