PRCHN Research Seminar: “Exploring the Impact of the Neighborhood Environment on Health through the Lens of Children”

The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods will host Elizabeth Benninger, a postdoctoral scholar at the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health, for its next Research Seminar series event.

Benninger will present “Exploring the Impact of the Neighborhood Environment on Health through the Lens of Children” Wednesday, Nov. 13, from noon to 1:15 p.m. in the PRCHN Meeting Room (B03) at the BioEnterprise Building.

About the talk

When it comes to understanding child health disparities, the environment matters. A child’s neighborhood environment is comprised of physical, built and social features, all of which have an impact on child health outcomes. Living in healthy neighborhood environments has a strong influence on the physical and psychological development of children—both in the short-term and over their life course. Within Cleveland, racial disparities are pronounced with infant mortality rates among black individuals (16 per 1,000 live births) and Hispanic individuals (10.3 per 1,000 live births) substantially higher than for whites individuals (9.3 per 1,000). Other concerns facing young people in the city are evident in the teenage pregnancy rate, which is considered to be an important marker of economic disadvantage.

The black teenage birth rate in Cuyahoga County is at 48.1 per l,000 births, and at 11.6 per 1,000 births for white teenagers. While objective measures such as poverty, infant mortality and pregnancy rates provide valuable indicators of child health disparities, well-being researchers have expressed discontent at the use of objective indicators as the sole measure of determining the health and well-being of children. This discontent is rooted in the contention that objective quality of life indicators only provide a partial understanding of health and well-being and what people think and feel, and how they appraise various aspects of their life is critical in understanding their overall quality of life. This seminar will discuss the use of participatory methods with children as a means of gathering evidence on children’s subjective understanding of their health, environment, and overall well-being as well as translating research evidence into social change.