Synopsis of Project

Synopsis, VISTA GCSNA Project: Government Canyon – Trails to Tomorrow

The main societal issue and motivation for creating this project:
Right now, many cities throughout the U.S. are experiencing problems with youth that are indicative of what has now been coined by Richard Louv, in his 2005 book: Last Child in the Woods as a “nature deficit disorder”. (1.) This issue, although a non-diagnosed problem, does illustrate a real phenomenon that is occurring and can be observed in various behaviors that demonstrate the disconnection between contemporary adolescents and the outdoors. Some of the noted traits are “parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of the screen” and a “declining number of National Park visits in the United States and increasing consumption of electronic media by children”. (9.)

Making the matter more complicated is the fact that people of color in lower-income urban areas are being disproportionately affected by disappearing recess times and other forms of recreation during their school days. (7.) Furthermore, there has been research into the disparity of green spaces like parks and natural areas in lower sociology-economic areas with larger populations of minorities. Results have shown that in most cases, urban minorities having the greatest disadvantage in access to nature. (3.) (4.)

The hope is that, by bringing selected students from economically distressed areas in San Antonio, to Government Canyon state natural area, that we will bridge the gap, to some degree between the urban and natural world and foster new outdoor based habits in the youths that are involved in the project. At the minimum, we hope that whomever comes out here, will at least take a new, happy or inspirational experience home with them. There has been evidence that green spaces help people cope with the demands of their lives and enhance overall life effectiveness. (8.)

Selection of areas of Bexar Co. to be involved:

Bexar County race and income data map, from

When it came to selection of potential candidates for this new project, I used information that was already available. I found a map that employed both race and income data with the greatest density of poverty in the city being in the south, central and west portions of the city as can be seen in the red portions of the map in screen shot above. (11.) Therefore, I wanted to focus on these areas of the city. The second thing I did was to get into contact with people currently working with youth in these areas of the city. I have found two leaders through a contact working with the Eastside Promise Zone initiative and another leader working with Texas A&M University Colonias Program. I am hoping to provide an update about where the project currently stands, so come back soon.

Further Reading/References:
1. Louv, Richard. (2008). Last Child in the Woods. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

2. White, Tyler. (2014). San Antonio ZIP Codes and poverty levels. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from

3. Wen, M., et al. (2013). Spatial Disparities in the Distribution of Parks and Green Spaces in the USA. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 45(1Suppl): S18-S27. Retrieved from

4. Scott, David. Economic Inequality, Poverty, and Park and Recreation Delivery. (2013). Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. Volume 31, Number 4, pp. 1-11. Retrieved from

5. Green, Duncan. (2012). From Poverty to Power: How active citizens and effective states can change the world, 2nd ed. Rugby, UK: Practical Action Publishing and Oxford: Oxfam International. Retrieved from

6. Ratcliffe Caroline, McKerna Signe-Mary. (2010). Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences. THE URBAN INSTITUTE. Brief 14, June 2010. Retrieved from

7. Charles Cheryl, Louv Richard. (2009). Children’s Nature Deficit: What We Know – and Don’t Know. Children & Nature Network. Retrieved from

8. Kuo, Frances E. (2001). COPING WITH POVERTY Impacts of Environment and Attention in the Inner City. ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR. Retrieved from

9. Nature deficit disorder. Wikipedia. Retrieved 5/23/17, from

10. Getting Youth Active | Toolkit for the Trade | Research. The Outdoor Foundation. Retrieved 5/23/17, from

11. Justice Map. Retrieved 6/02/17, Retrieved from