ijerph-logo

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Children's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2022) | Viewed by 7905

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Karen Villanueva
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University, Melbourne 3000, Australia
Interests: built environment; community; neighborhood; child development; child health behavior; mixed methods
Dr. Melody Smith
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
School of Nursing, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Interests: environments and child health; activating child voice; participatory approaches; mixed methods research
Dr. Sarah Gray
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Victoria 3052, Australia
Interests: child health and development; early childhood; inequity; social determinants; population cohort data

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Healthy development is important for children’s present and future well-being, and is likely shaped by multiple factors including the environments in which children grow and develop. The neighborhood environment is an important social determinant of childhood outcomes, with action on the social determinants of health seen to narrow inequities. Globally, over 50% of people live in urban neighborhood environments. Neighborhood design and the built environment include features such as housing type and layout, street design, traffic, parks, facilities, and other infrastructure and services. These attributes are amenable to policy and practice change.

In response to rapidly growing populations, national and international ‘place-based’ policy agendas advocate the need for ‘child-friendly’ and ‘liveable’ cities seeking to promote and protect child well-being. Research reviews and viewpoints have also recently emphasized the need to target neighborhood-effects research on child development, health, and well-being. This increasing research and policy interest suggests it is timely to have evidence that supports children’s health and development.

The opportunities afforded by the increasing data volume and methodological capabilities (e.g., the breadth of longitudinal and multilevel cohort data maximized through data linkages, geographic information systems (GIS), and global positioning systems (GPS)), innovative analytic techniques, and the value of qualitative and participatory research data for exploring neighborhood environments in which young children live have important implications for neighborhood-effects and childhood-development research, and the ability to meaningfully inform policy. Papers addressing these methods and topics are invited for this Special Issue.

Dr. Karen Villanueva
Dr. Melody Smith
Dr. Sarah Gray
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • child development
  • early childhood
  • child health and well-being
  • health inequities
  • built environment
  • neighborhood design
  • urban environment
  • urban design
  • neighborhood
  • community
  • cities
  • schools
  • socio-ecological model
  • mixed methods
  • participatory approaches

Published Papers (7 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Article
Parents’ Perceptions of the Neighbourhood Built Environment Are Associated with the Social and Emotional Development of Young Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(11), 6476; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19116476 (registering DOI) - 26 May 2022
Abstract
The influence of the neighbourhood built environment on young children’s physical development has been well-documented; however, there is limited empirical evidence of an association with social and emotional development. Parental perceptions of the neighbourhood built environment may act as facilitators or barriers to [...] Read more.
The influence of the neighbourhood built environment on young children’s physical development has been well-documented; however, there is limited empirical evidence of an association with social and emotional development. Parental perceptions of the neighbourhood built environment may act as facilitators or barriers to young children’s play and interactions in their local environment. The aim of this study was to examine the associations between parents’ perceptions of the neighbourhood built environment and the social-emotional development of children aged two-to-five years. Parents’ positive perceptions of traffic safety (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.55, 0.98), crime safety (OR 0.79; 95% CI 0.64, 0.99) and land use mix–access (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.56, 0.98) were associated with lower odds of social-emotional difficulties, while positive perceptions of walking and cycling facilities were associated with higher odds of difficulties (OR 1.26; 95% CI 1.02, 1.55). Positive perceptions of land use mix–access (OR 1.32; 95% CI 1.03, 1.69), street connectivity (OR 1.35; 95% CI 1.10, 1.66) and neighbourhood aesthetics (OR 1.27; 95% CI 1.01, 1.60) were associated with higher odds of prosocial behaviours. Interventions to improve parents’ perceptions of built environment features may facilitate opportunities for play and interactions which contribute to healthy social-emotional development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Understanding the Influence of Community-Level Determinants on Children’s Social and Emotional Well-Being: A Systems Science and Participatory Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(10), 5972; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19105972 - 14 May 2022
Viewed by 306
Abstract
Healthy social and emotional development and longer-term outcomes for children are shaped by factors across the multiple levels (micro, meso, exo, macro) of a child’s environment. By employing a novel systems science and participatory approach, we were able to co-produce a series of [...] Read more.
Healthy social and emotional development and longer-term outcomes for children are shaped by factors across the multiple levels (micro, meso, exo, macro) of a child’s environment. By employing a novel systems science and participatory approach, we were able to co-produce a series of causal loop diagrams that detail the complex relationships between variables operating at the community or neighborhood environment level (e.g., features of the built environment such as: housing type, access, availability, and location; parks and greenspace, facilities such as community services, and other service infrastructure such as transit), and highlight the individual and collective impacts these relationships can have on the subsystem surrounding a child’s social and emotional well-being. Our approach provides a unique lens of knowledge through which communities can identify key leverage points for action and (re)design of community spaces, practices, and policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Data to Decisions: Methods to Create Neighbourhood Built Environment Indicators Relevant for Early Childhood Development
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 5549; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095549 - 03 May 2022
Viewed by 563
Abstract
Healthy development in the early years lays the foundations for children’s ongoing physical, emotional, and social development. Children develop in multiple contexts, including their local neighbourhood. Neighbourhood-built environment characteristics, such as housing, walkability, traffic exposure, availability of services, facilities, and parks, are associated [...] Read more.
Healthy development in the early years lays the foundations for children’s ongoing physical, emotional, and social development. Children develop in multiple contexts, including their local neighbourhood. Neighbourhood-built environment characteristics, such as housing, walkability, traffic exposure, availability of services, facilities, and parks, are associated with a range of health and wellbeing outcomes across the life course, but evidence with early years’ outcomes is still emerging. Data linkage techniques were used to assemble a dataset of spatial (objectively-measured) neighbourhood-built environment (BE) measures linked to participant addresses in the 2015 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) for children living in the 21 most populous urban and regional Australian cities (n = 235,655) to help address this gap. This paper describes the methods used to develop this dataset. This linked dataset (AEDC-BE) is the first of its kind worldwide, enabling opportunities for identifying which features of the built environment are associated with ECD across Australia at scale, allow comparisons between diverse contexts, and the identification of where best to intervene. National data coverage provides statistical power to model real-world complexities, such as differences by city, state/territory, and remoteness. The neighbourhood-built environment can be modified by policy and practice at scale, and has been identified as a way to help reduce inequitable early childhood development outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Early Childhood between a Rock and a Hard Place: Early Childhood Education and Students’ Disruption in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(8), 4486; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084486 - 08 Apr 2022
Viewed by 489
Abstract
Looking through the lens of ecological system theory, this paper used a mixed-method approach, based on 20 interviews and 208 Early Childhood Education (ECE) teacher questionnaires, to elaborate the position of ECE in Pakistan. The study indicates that ECE is between a rock [...] Read more.
Looking through the lens of ecological system theory, this paper used a mixed-method approach, based on 20 interviews and 208 Early Childhood Education (ECE) teacher questionnaires, to elaborate the position of ECE in Pakistan. The study indicates that ECE is between a rock and a hard place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The findings further show that ECE is provided by less qualified and inexperienced teachers, who give less attention to the physical and psychological needs of the students. The classrooms are overcrowded and lack relevant teaching–learning materials. Moreover, the single-teacher policy and overcrowded classrooms hinder students’ motivation, the delivery of quality education and the development of good behaviors. These challenges are also the main causes of students’ dropouts. This paper increases people’s understanding of ECE and its challenges in Pakistan. For ECE development, the paper recommends separating ECE from primary schools and giving it a budget to purchase adequate and relevant resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Evaluation and Optimization of Walkability of Children’s School Travel Road for Accessibility and Safety Improvement
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010071 - 22 Dec 2021
Viewed by 917
Abstract
(1) Background: In the context of a children friendly city, accessibility and safety are the basic needs of children’s pedestrian school travel. This study proposes a comprehensive evaluation method of pedestrian accessibility and safety for children’s school travel. (2) Methods: Firstly, the school [...] Read more.
(1) Background: In the context of a children friendly city, accessibility and safety are the basic needs of children’s pedestrian school travel. This study proposes a comprehensive evaluation method of pedestrian accessibility and safety for children’s school travel. (2) Methods: Firstly, the school travel network was constructed by simulating the path of children walking to school. Secondly, from the meso and micro dimensions, the impact factors of pedestrian accessibility and safety were combed out, and an evaluation index system was constructed. Finally, pedestrian accessibility and safety were evaluated based on the Space Syntax analysis and ArcGIS spatial analysis, and the results were superimposed and spatially differentiated. The new evaluation method was tested in the Jintang Road area in Hedong District, Tianjin, China. (3) Results: The pedestrian accessibility and safety of children’s school travel road in the study area needed to be improved. It was found that the main impact factors were the effective walking width, the spatial connectivity, the visual integration, the obstruction of pedestrian safety, the completeness of crossing facilities and the influence of traffic flow and put forward optimization strategies. After optimized simulation verification, the overall improvement was achieved. (4) Conclusion: The evaluation method is helpful to calculate the pedestrian accessibility and safety of children’s school travel, and help decision makers determine the design and management strategies of child-friendly streets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Evaluation of Walking Comfort in Children’s School Travel at Street Scale: A Case Study in Tianjin (China)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10292; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910292 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 689
Abstract
(1) Background: school travel is an important part of a child’s daily activities. A comfortable walking environment can encourage children to walk to school. The existing methods of evaluating walking environments are not specific to children’s walks to school. (2) Methods: this study [...] Read more.
(1) Background: school travel is an important part of a child’s daily activities. A comfortable walking environment can encourage children to walk to school. The existing methods of evaluating walking environments are not specific to children’s walks to school. (2) Methods: this study proposes a method of evaluating walking comfort in children traveling to school at street scale. Related indexes were selected that reflect children’s school travel behavior and their needs in street environments based on walking environment audit tools. Factor analysis was then used to calculate the relative weight of each index. (3) Results: the new evaluation method was tested in the neighborhoods around the First Central Primary School in Hedong District, Tianjin, China. The walking comfort for children’s school travel was evaluated in eight indexes: effective street width; street flatness; street cleanliness; interface diversity; buffer; shade coverage; green looking ratio; and sound decibels. Different classes and types of streets were found to have various vulnerabilities. (4) Conclusions: this evaluation method can accurately locate the weak spots in streets to improve the local policymakers’ perception of street environments, which can greatly facilitate the implementation of precise measures to promote children walking to school. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Review
The Association between Green Space and Adolescents’ Mental Well-Being: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6640; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186640 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 4030
Abstract
This systematic review summarised and evaluated the evidence for associations between green space and adolescents’ mental well-being. The PRISMA statement guidelines were followed for reporting systematic reviews. Fourteen articles met the inclusion criteria for this review. Synthesis suggests beneficial associations between green space [...] Read more.
This systematic review summarised and evaluated the evidence for associations between green space and adolescents’ mental well-being. The PRISMA statement guidelines were followed for reporting systematic reviews. Fourteen articles met the inclusion criteria for this review. Synthesis suggests beneficial associations between green space exposure and reduced stress, positive mood, less depressive symptoms, better emotional well-being, improved mental health and behaviour, and decreased psychological distress in adolescents. Several studies found the relationship varied by demographic and socio-economic factors. The limited number of studies and the risk of bias were the main limitations, together with heterogeneity regarding green space and mental well-being assessments. Overall, this review highlights the potential contribution of green space in schoolyards. Improving the availability, accessibility and quality of green space is likely to generate positive impacts on adolescents’ mental well-being. More consistent evidence on the use of different types of green space and perceptions of features are needed in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Designing Cities That Support Healthy Child Development)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop