Team HRPDC/HRTPO participated in the second annual Hampton Roads Datathon during the week of September 22-29, 2023. The event is sponsored by CivicLab Norfolk to promote data-sharing and data science in the region. The objective was to create the most useful project or analysis relating to the topic of “Community Wellness.” The entire project had to be completed within one week. Although we were not repeat winners of the coveted Hampton Roads Datathon Champion Belt, our team proudly presented our entry to the judges and enjoyed the day with the other participants.
Our project focused on identifying where resources related to the environmental, physical, social, and intellectual wellness of youth in Hampton Roads are located compared to where they reside. Research has shown there is a correlation between the proximity of wellness resources and health outcomes of youth. The StoryMap below provides a summary of the project and displays all of the maps created.
An inventory of publicly available data relating to youth wellness was compiled. We looked at playgrounds, parks that include sports fields and open space, recreation centers/YMCAs, libraries, and water recreation, including overlooks, fishing, and swimming. These point data were then mapped and compared to demographics for youth ages 0 – 17 across the region. Data were then analyzed in GIS by census block group to determine the density of youth populations in relation to the density of available resources. A bivariate map was created to highlight areas with high or low areas of percent youth population and resource density.
Analyses show that 22% of Hampton Roads residents are under 17 years old (approximately 386,000 kids). There were about 1,500 total youth wellness resources identiﬁed in the region, with schools and playgrounds the most predominant.
Approximately 38% of the region’s youth population live in block groups that do not have any of the selected wellness resource types located in them. These areas are not only located in rural areas, but also in urban and suburban areas.
Walkability to resources was explored by applying distance buffer around the resource locations and measuring youth population. The recommended walking distance to playgrounds and schools is one half mile to one mile from a child’s home, so a one-mile buffer was chosen. We found that 18% of youth live within this one-mile buffer of resources.
While this project was a cursory investigation into the topic, it does provide a foundation for future exploration. There are many other factors that influence youth wellness aside from proximity to resources that could be considered, including air quality, access to healthcare, environmental justice considerations, and more.Acknowledging that these types of resources are difficult and expensive to build (schools, libraries, etc.), creative solutions should be considered to increase youth access. For example, expanding after school programs, starting mobile library programs, or identifying small parcels of land for pocket parks/playgrounds.
To see the full project summary, please visit the StoryMap.