Perceptions of urban parks as havens and contested terrains by Mexican-Americans in Chicago neighborhoods

Monika Stodolska, Kimberly J. Shinew, Juan Carlos Acevedo, Dina Izenstark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objectives of this study were to (1) identify the benefits of parks for Mexican- American urban residents and the roles they play in the dynamics of their communities and (2) explore issues related to their existence and utilization in Latino communities. Bedimo-Rung, Mowen, and Cohen's (2005) model of the Role of Parks in Public Health was employed as a conceptual framework in this study. Data were collected in the summer of 2007 with two focus groups with 26 Mexican-American residents from two predominantly minority Chicago communities. Benefits of urban parks for Mexican-American residents were classified into five categories-environmental, social, psychological health, physical health, and cultural. The study also identified many problems related to the existence and utilization of parks in Latino communities that detracted from the benefits Mexican-Americans could obtain from visiting parks. They included insufficient access to parks, poor maintenance of the existing parks, crime and safety issues, and interracial conflict and discrimination. A new framework was proposed to model the benefits of parks for minority urban residents and factors that affect utilization of parks in minority communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-126
Number of pages24
JournalLeisure Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Benefits
  • Mexican-Americans
  • Minority communities
  • Parks
  • Problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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