Inner-City Children and Environmental Equity: Evidence from Philadelphia

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Virginia Tech


Experts agree that children need access to green spaces. Many urban children live in degraded environments unsuitable for outdoor play. Children primarily play in school yards. Low-income and African American children are often the victims of social, economic, and educational inequalities leading to the under-allocation of resources for their public schools. Patterns of wealth, advantage and disadvantage are geographically visible in Philadelphia's urban fabric in the segregation of many black and low-income neighborhoods. This is a direct result of historic urban development . Revitalization has aimed at rejuvenating the inner-city economically, but has lead to the displacement of many poor black families and increased segregation of classes. There is a high population of low-income African American children attending public schools in the inner-city. Philadelphia is known for their public-private funding partnerships for community projects and services. Funding problems resulting from low-tax revenue and disinterest of private investors have lead to a disparity in achievement and curriculum between city public schools, private, and suburban public schools. Federal policies attempt to lessen this gap and provide incentives for environmental education programs, but poorer schools lack the funding to expand curriculum and improve or maintain playgrounds. Philadelphia's parks and recreation programs have tried to provide child playscapes to disadvantaged children and schools additional outdoor resources, but racial tensions and neighborhood segregation act as repressors to this success. Guidelines are needed to help create programs and policies that can mitigate disadvantaged children's environmental equity.



Social Equity, Recreation, Public Parks, Environmental Education, Education, Policy, Philadelphia