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Students' Research Finds Positive Impact of Nature Trails in Mount Washington

Duquesne University students will present their findings from research that examined the impact of nature trails in Mount Washington to members of the neighborhood’s Community Development Corporation (CDC). Their presentation will focus on the impact on economic development, crime and safety, and physical and mental health.

The research indicates that green spaces have a very positive impact on community health; crime rates on hiking and biking trails is very low, and criminal activity has decreased in areas adjacent to well used trails in many communities across the nation; and real-estate prices increase proportionally the closer a property is to recreational trails and parks.

The students are members of the service-learning senior seminar, Psychology of Social Engagement, at Duquesne. Mount Washington’s Grandview Scenic Byways Park is 240 acres and is comprised of smaller parks and well-developed nature trails. Students taking the class during the last academic year and the current semester created and administered a neighborhood survey about park use, and conducted background research for a trails feasibility study. They worked in conjunction with Dr. Ilyssa Manspeizer, Grandview Park’s resource manager.

“The students’ findings have helped us identify necessary services for particular neighborhoods and brought an authoritative and professional voice to our community,” said Manspeizer. “The surveys they conducted for us in the past helped us identify the need for increased youth programming at one of the parks.  We are now in the final stages of bringing in a suitable youth program for an unused building in that park.”

Duquesne psychology majors are required to take the service-learning senior seminar, which is designed to build a bridge between academic studies in psychology and social action beyond the University.

“I try to show the students that it is not very difficult to become involved in their own local community, and that there are many groups and organizations that can benefit from their passion and expertise,” said Associate Psychology Professor Eva Simms, a Mount Washington resident who is teaching this semester’s seminar and is a member of the CDC. “This continuing collaboration with our community partner has been a great learning experience for our students, and it has already made a positive difference in the Mount Washington neighborhoods.”

The students will make their presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20 at the Mount Washington Senior Center at 122 Virginia Ave.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.