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Funded Projects

Building Healthy Minds in Nature

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program (HTPCP)

Project Director(s):

Priyanka Fernandes, MD
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Phone: 310-794-2202


There is a growing mental health need among children in this country because of many public health threats facing us today. Health, education and economic distress from the pandemic, extreme weather events and wildfires from climate change, and racial inequities have created multiple stressors for our children and youth. With limited resources, it will be essential to teach children in the community the importance of mental, physical and environmental health and practices that improve these outcomes.

Goals and Objectives:

We aim to create a mental, physical and environmental health curriculum and deliver it through afterschool and teen programs in three parks in the South Los Angeles community. Specific goals are: 1) to improve mental and physical health of children ages 5 through 18 years in the target population, 2) to increase community engagement and resilience around environmental health and justice in the target population, and 3) to create a sustainable model of community-based mental, physical and environmental health education and practices among children and families in the target population.


We are requesting funding to develop a mental, physical and environmental health curriculum for afterschool and teen programs in three parks in South Los Angeles. The funding will be used to train undergraduate and graduate students from UCLA who will help develop and deliver the curriculum. Staff from our community partner, TreePeople, will deliver the environmental health section of the curriculum. We will also train staff from TreePeople, so that they can introduce a mental and physical health curriculum into their existing environmental health workshops for middle and high school children. Funding will be used to hire a graduate student researcher from the federally funded maternal and child health training program at UCLA to help coordinate, implement and evaluate this project.


The main collaborators on this project are 1) The UCLA Preventive Medicine Program, 2) Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, 3) TreePeople, 4) Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.


Process and outcome measures will be collected regularly to determine number of children who attended the programs and who report changes in knowledge, practice and outcomes in mental, physical and environmental health. We will also evaluate the success in training students and staff as it pertains to long-term sustainability of the project.