An illustration of children playing outdoors in their neighborhood with a number of park-related resources.

Healthy Places Lab

Healthy Places Lab

The Healthy Places Lab at Georgia Tech produces action research that advances population health and wellbeing.


Through the lens of the built environment, we address the complex social, economic, and environmental determinants of health that fall outside of the typical health care setting but have major influences on quality of life. 

Our projects focus on community engagement, youth advocacy, health equity, and measurement of the built environment with emerging technologies. We disseminate community design and public health academic and professional multidisciplinary training and community building resources through the Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse (BEPHC).  

The Healthy Places Lab is also a core member of the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC), which builds the evidence about the policies, practices and aspects of the built environment that promote safe and developmentally appropriate physical activity for all youth and their families.

Lab Members

Nisha Botchwey

Dr. Nisha Botchwey


Associate Professor, School of City & Regional Planning
Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Georgia Tech Professional Education

Olivia Chatman

Olivia Chatman

Research Associate

Nene Igietseme

Nene Igietseme

Ph.D. Student

Meaghan McSorley

Meaghan McSorley

Ph.D. Student

Katie OConnell

Katie OConnell

Ph.D. Student

Alexandra Rodriguez Dalmau

Alexandra Rodriguez Dalmau

Undergraduate Student

Headshot of Janelle Wright

Janelle Wright

MCRP Student

The YEAH! Project

GIF showing text about the PARC stating that "Kids should have a say about how they grow up healthy."

Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH!) is a 14-week curriculum to engage youth participants in planning and implementing projects designed to create healthier neighborhoods. Youth will be trained to conduct neighborhood assessments, select a meaningful project, and advocate for change with local policy and decision makers.

YEAH! is a fantastic way for youth to understand how the design and function of their school and/or community impacts their health, to develop an action plan that can lead to changes, and to advocate for these changes with decision makers in their own community.

Botchwey, N., Jones-Bynes, J., OConnell, L.K., Millstein, R., Kim, A., Conway, T. (2020) Impact of a Youth Advocacy Policy, Systems and Environmental Change Program for Physical Activity on Perceptions and Beliefs. Preventive Medicine. 136. (corresponding author) 

Botchwey, N., Conway, T., Floyd, M., Hipp, A., Kim, A., Pollack-Porter, K., Umstattd Meyer, R., Burnett, J., Sallis, J. (2020) Recruitment Challenges with Youth Physical Activity Research. Preventive Medicine. 131.  (corresponding author) 

Kim, A., Botchwey, N. (2020) YEAH! Club Stories: Asian American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development (AALEAD) (January) 

Sallis, J., Botchwey, N., Conway, T., Floyd, M., Hipp, A., Kim, A., Pollack-Porter, K., Umstattd Meyer, M.R. (2019) Building Evidence to Reduce Inequities in Youth Physical Activity and Obesity: Introduction to the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC) Special Section. Preventive Medicine. 129. 

Botchwey, N., Johnson, N., OConnell, K.L., & Kim, A. (2019). Including Youth in the Ladder of Citizen Participation. Journal of the American Planning Association. 85: 3, 255-270. (corresponding author) 

Umstattd Meyer, M.R., Hipp, J.A., Botchwey, N., Floyd, M., Kim, A., Pollack-Porter, K.M., Sallis, J. (2019). How to Improve Physical Activity and Health for All Children and Families. Stanford Social Innovation Review. 

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). “Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth.” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 

Botchwey, N., Ricks, T. (2019). YEAH! Club Stories: Charles R. Drew Charter School, Atlanta, GA. (August) 

Botchwey, N., Bryan, K. (2019). YEAH! Club Stories: Glades Middle School, Miramar, FL. (August) 

Botchwey, N., O’Connell, K., Brody, B. (2019). YEAH! Club Stories: Lihue Boys & Girls Club, Lihue, HI (August) 

Botchwey, N., Jones, F. (2019). YEAH! Club Stories: Penobscot Boys & Girls Club – Presque Isle/Micmac Unit Presque, ME. (August) 

Botchwey, N. 2019-present. Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH!) Curriculum. Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH!) is a 14-week curriculum to engage youth participants in planning and implementing projects designed to create healthier neighborhoods.  

Botchwey, N., Floyd, M., Pollack, K., Carmen, C., Spoon, C., Schmid, T., Conway, T., Hipp, J.A., Kim, A.J., Umstattd Meyer, M.R., Wilson, A. Kauh, T., Sallis, J. (2018). Policy and Practice-Relevant Youth Physical Activity Research Agenda. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 15(8): 626-634. (corresponding author)  

Botchwey, N. & O’Connell, K. (2018). Physical Activity Advocacy Training Among Youth in Lower-Income Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities. (April) This post discusses the research presented at the Active Living Research Conference for the Youth Engagement and Action for Health study. 

Sallis, J. & Botchwey, N. (2016). Introducing the Physical Activity Research Center. (March) This post provides information to readers on the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC), the team, it’s goals and plans for building the evidence around policies, practices and the built environment that promote safe and developmentally appropriate physical activity. 

Lal, R., Das, K., Fan, Y., Barkjohn, K., Botchwey, N., Ramaswami, A., Russell, A.G. (2020) Connecting Air Quality with Emotional Well-Being and Neighborhood Infrastructure in a US City. Environmental Health Insights. 14. 

Servadio, J.L., Lawal, A.S., Davis, T., Bates, J., Russell, A.G., Ramaswami, A., Convertino, M., & Botchwey, N. (2019). Demographic Inequities in Health Outcomes and Air Pollution Exposure in the Atlanta Area and its Relationship to Urban Infrastructure. Journal of Urban Health. 96: 219. (corresponding author) 

Koo, B., Boyd, N., Botchwey, N., & Guhathakurta, S. (2019). Environmental Equity and Spatiotemporal Patterns of Urban Tree Canopy in Atlanta. Journal of Planning Education and Research.   

Gaglioti, A.H., Xu, J., Rollins, L., Baltru, P., O’Connell, K.L., Cooper, D.L., Hopkins, J., Botchwey, N, Akintobi, T. (2018). Neighborhood Environmental Health and Premature Death from Cardiovascular Disease. Prev Chronic Disease. 15: 170220.

Botchwey, N., Lee, S., Leous, A., Guhathakurta, S. (2014). Neighborhood Quality of Life and Health in Atlanta. In H. Etienne, & B. Faga. (Eds), Planning Atlanta (Chapter 13). Chicago, IL: APA Planners Press. 

Zhang, G., Zhang, W., Guhathakurta, S., & Botchwey, N. (2017). Flow-based planning tool in the City of Atlanta. Environment and Planning B. 

Botchwey, N. (2017). What We Measure in Health Matters (February). Planning4Health Webinar. American Planning Association. 

Botchwey, N., Kulbok, P. & Park E. (2020). Building a Culture of Health to Influence Health Equity within Communities. In Stanhope and Lancaster (Eds.), Public Health Nursing: Population-centered Health Care in the Community, edition 10. Maryland Heights, MO: Elsevier. 

Botchwey, N. 2011-present. Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse.   

Botchwey, N., Umemoto, K. (2018). A Guide to Designing Engaged Learning Course in Community Planning. Journal of Planning Education and Research. 

Botchwey, N. & Trowbridge, M. (2012). Training the Next Generation to Promote Healthy Places. In H. Frumkin, A. Dannenberg, & R. Jackson (Eds.), Making Healthy Places: A Built Environment for Health, Well-Being, and Sustainability. (Chapter 23). Chicago, IL.: Island Press. (corresponding author) 

Pollack, K., Dannenberg, A., Botchwey, N., Stone, C., & Seto, E. (2014). Developing a Model Curriculum for a University Course in Health Impact Assessment. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal Journal 33(1): 80-85. 

Dyjack, D.T., Botchwey, N., & Marziale, E. (2013). Cross-sectoral Workforce Development: Examining the Intersection of Public Health and Community Design. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 19(1): 97-99. 

Botchwey, N. (2013). Public Health and Community Design Cross-Sectoral Workforce Development. Expert Panel Report supported by the National Prevention Strategy through CDC, NNPHI and in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Botchwey, N., Trowbridge, M., & Fisher, T. (2014). Green Health: Urban Planning and the Development of Healthy and Sustainable Neighborhoods and Schools. Journal of Planning Education and Research 34(2): 113-122. (corresponding author) 

Trowbridge, M., Huang, T., Botchwey, N., Fisher, T., Pyke, C, Rodgers, A., & Ballard-Barbash, R. (2013). Green Building and Childhood Obesity Prevention: Toward and Integrated “Green Health” Environmental Design Research Framework. American Journal of Preventative Medicine 44(5): 489-495. 

Zhu, K., Igietseme, N., Jones-Bynes, J. (2020) Tide to Town: Rapid Health Impact Assessment of Savannah’s Tide to Town Urban Trail System

Ross, C., Orenstein, M., & Botchwey, N. (2014) Health Impact Assessments in the USA. New York: Springer.


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