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Participatory Mapping of Holistic Youth Well-Being: A Mixed Methods Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2024

This paper explores youth well-being in the context of the built environment.


This study offers insights into the relationship between the built environment and youth wellness, highlighting the importance of incorporating youth perspectives into urban planning efforts. From 2020 to 2021, the Nashville Youth Design Team, a participatory action research and design collective composed of high school students in Metro Nashville-Davidson County, Tennessee investigated the influence of built environments on diverse aspects of youth well-being. By employing a comprehensive eight-element definition of wellness (i.e., environmental, financial, intellectual, mental, physical, recreational, social, and spiritual), the team created and disseminated a Youth Wellness survey to middle and high school students across Nashville-Davidson County. In their survey, youth researchers asked their peers to rate their own wellness across each of these eight domains. The participants were also encouraged to identify locations in the city that either supported or detracted from their sense of well-being. This study utilized these data to conduct a spatial analysis, exploring how proximity to wellness-supporting or detracting locations influenced young people’s self-reported well-being. The data from open-ended survey questions were also analyzed qualitatively to provide context on how different environmental factors influence youth well-being. Urban environments influence well-being among young people in many ways, yet youth perspectives are often excluded from decision-making processes including urban planning and design. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: February 1, 2024