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It is About Being Outside

Key Message

Canadian youth involved in this ethnographic study defined and visualized good health as "being outside" in a safe, clean, green and livable space. 


Woodgate, Roberta L., and Skarlato, Olga. (2015). “It is about being outside”: Canadian youth’s perspectives of good health and the environment. Health & Place. 31:100-110. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.11.008


Drawing on qualitative data generated from an ethnographic study exploring Canadian youth’s understanding of health, this paper examines youth’s perspectives of the relationships between health and environment. Seventy-one youth (12 to 19 years of age) took part in individual and focus group interviews, as well as in photovoice interviews.


Although initial discourse about health mainly focused on healthy eating and exercise, youth were more enthused and able to share their thoughts and feelings about the relationships between health and environment during the photovoice interviews. For these youth, good health was defined and visualized as “being outside” in a safe, clean, green, and livable space. Youth talked about conditions contributing to healthy environments and how healthy environments contributed to a strong sense of place. Overall, the conversations about the environment evoked many feelings in the youth. Results are discussed in the context of current research and in relation to youth, but also more broadly in relation to research on health and environment.


  • Youth shared deep and unique perspectives of links between health and environment.
  • For youth, the outside natural environment can be therapeutic and healing.
  • The outside natural environment can also be uncomfortable and threatening for youth.
  • We need to provide safe, clean and green natural and built environments for youth.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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