Hello to all from Banff, Canada where several of the BEACH Lab team members were able to attend the 2018 Active Living Research (ALR) Annual Conference! This year’s conference was held from February 11th-14th, 2018, and was centered on the theme of “Future-Proofing Activity: Application Across Sectors,” which focused on anticipating the future of physical activity and active living. Over 300 researchers, practitioners, and policy makers from across the globe were in attendance sharing innovative ideas on a diverse array of topics such as active transportation, parks and recreation, urban planning, and public health.
Dr. Andy Kaczynski served once again on the Executive Program Committee representing specifically the parks and recreation sector. As part of the committee, Andy was able to assist with the preparation of the 2018 conference, including the decision of keynote speakers, selecting the program content for both oral and poster presentations, and arranging workshops to teach attendees how to promote more active living within their own communities. He also played a vital role in deciding the location of next year’s annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina where he will serve as co-chair. Let the planning for the 2019 ALR Annual Conference begin!
But before we turn our attention to 2019, let’s revisit some of the BEACH Lab highlights from the 2018 conference.
The conference started off on Sunday morning with a Physical Activity Kick-Off Celebration followed by a workshop session in which former BEACH Lab member, Morgan Hughey, led a presentation on “Mapping park use with Maptionnaire – A map-based online survey tool.” This workshop highlighted the novel methodology and tool being used as part of the BEACH Lab’s ParkIndex project. Morgan’s workshop was well attended and was viewed as being a very positive innovation according to other conference members.
Later that evening, a poster session was held for conference attendees in which BEACH Lab member and second-year MPH student Sarah King presented on “Parks and environmental justice: Comparing park availability, features and quality by income and racial/ethnic minority from 2013-2017 in Greenville County, SC.” The presentation included results from the 2013 and 2017 assessments of Greenville County parks that BEACH Lab members were able to conduct using the Electronic Community Park Audit Tool (eCPAT). Conference members were astounded to hear about the comparative differences in park availability, features and quality from 2013 to 2017 according to income and race/ethnic minority of block groups across the County, and appreciated the efforts by the BEACH Lab team in performing the longitudinal study.
Monday afternoon was a very exciting day for Ellen Stowe, second-year PhD student and BEACH Lab member, who gave a wonderful oral presentation titled, “ParkIndex: Commonality and diversity across academic, public health, and parks and recreation key informant perspectives on a national standardized park access tool.” This presentation summarized findings from Phase 1 of the ParkIndex project, which entailed conducting and analyzing key informant interviews with academics, public health professionals, and parks and rec professionals. This was Ellen’s second time at ALR but her first time giving an oral presentation. She was grateful opportunity to share the BEACH lab’s work with other active living researchers and professionals and very much looks forward to attending future ALR conferences, hopefully with the opportunity to present again!
Following the conference on Monday night, current and past BEACH Lab members Andy, Ellen, Morgan, and Sarah were able to join other ALR conference attendees for some great food at a local restaurant during the third annual “Parks People Happy Hour.” There, the BEACH Lab team was able to mingle with former research partners and meet others within the field that studied the impact of the built environment on active living.
On Wednesday morning, Morgan Hughey, a former BEACH Lab doctoral student and now Assistant Professor at the College of Charleston, presented her dissertation work titled ‘Quantifying and testing a multicomponent obesogenic environment measure with childhood obesity.’
The conference concluded the following Wednesday with a town hall discussion on the wonderful progress being made within the field of active living research and innovation. Many conference members were excited to hear about the 2019 ALR Annual Conference to take place in Charleston, SC and eager to hear what next year’s theme will be. For Sarah, this was the first time attending the ALR conference, but with the help of returning members Andy, Morgan, and Ellen, the team was able to enjoy some activities such as hiking and exploring Banff.
A special recognition is to be given to Ellen for receiving University of South Carolina Graduate School Travel Award to attend the conference. The BEACH Lab is excited for next year’s conference as they trade in their snowshoes for flip-flops, and cannot wait to hear what other exciting new research is occurring within the active living community!
-The BEACH Lab Team