Manchester Youth PhotoVoice Project Highlights Challenges in Accessing Areas of Recreation

First of Ten High Need Communities to Officially Complete a PhotoVoice Project, an initiative of HEAL NH’s Active Recreation Program

Manchester - In an effort to enhance a local community’s access to places to play and be active, the City of Manchester Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division of DPW partnered with The Foundation for Healthy Communities and its HEAL NH program to launch the Youth PhotoVoice Project, a first of its kind for the state. 

With the goal of increasing opportunities for active recreation in their communities, the Manchester Youth PhotoVoice Project engaged local youth to walk their routes to Sheehan-Basquil Park and highlight areas of concern that limit their ability to access the park, as well as areas that created positive feelings about their community through photos and captions that voiced their challenges in accessing the park. 

“To effectively provide supportive, healthy environments where we live and play, engaging community residents to learn about the cultural, environmental, and safety factors that affect recreation and park use is an important first step,” said Beth Gustafson-Wheeler, Director of Population Health at the Foundation for Healthy Communities.  “Providing a space to allow the voice of children to be heard is empowering and can result in better outcomes for improving park use and physical activity.“

The Manchester PhotoVoice Project is the first community to complete the project, where local youth ages 9-12 took photos and provided captions to the strengths and challenges they saw in accessing Sheehan-Basquil Park and Hunt Pool areas.  It’s one of ten high need communities taking part in the PhotoVoice Project, an initiative of HEAL NH’s Active Recreation Program.

“We are very proud of the work these youth accomplished in such a short time.  We applaud their efforts in helping city planners and other city officials as we look toward the future of Manchester. We need to listen to children in order to build a better environment for all Manchester residents,” said Janet Horvath, Manchester’s Recreation and Enterprise Manager.

In 2014, partners and key stakeholders of the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL NH) initiative developed the New Hampshire Healthy People Healthy Places Plan (HPHP), calling for the implementation of policy, systems, and environmental strategies aimed at improving the places where people live, learn, work and play, particularly in NH’s most vulnerable communities. 

Building on that effort, HEAL NH’s Active Recreation Workgroup began a project to inventory park and recreation space in high need communities to gain a better understanding of what recreation looks like in New Hampshire.  An Active Recreation Inventory was created and identified Manchester as one of the 10 communities in the state with the “highest need” based on demographics, health status and geographic characteristics. 

The photos from the Manchester Youth PhotoVoice Project were on display at Jupiter Hall in October and Manchester’s City Hall throughout November.


For more on HEAL NH's Active Recreation Program, click here.

To read HEAL NH's report on Recreation Access in New Hampshire Communities, click here.