Low-Income, Urban Children’s Perspectives on Physical Activity: A Photovoice Project

Lindsay Heidelberger, Chery Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives The purpose of this research was to have ethnically diverse, 9- to 13-year-olds who live in urban, low-income households use Photovoice to represent their physical activity practices and their perception of their physical activity environment. Methods Photovoice methodology was used to allow children to capture their physical activity habits and environment through photographs and interviews. The Social Cognitive Theory was used as the theoretical framework. Heights and weights were taken for all children and BMI was calculated. Photographs were analyzed by recording the content of usable photos in SPSS software. Qualitative analysis of the interview transcripts used the open coding method. Results Participants were 24 children (15 male, 9 female) living in inner city, low-income households. On average, children were 10.9 years old and the mean BMI-for-age percentile was 72 %. Children took a total of 377 pictures and 339 of these were usable. Three themes were identified across interviews and photographs, (a) types of activity, (b) social environment, and (c) physical environment where activity took place. Conclusions for Practice This study provides insight into low-income, urban children’s physical activity habits and environment using a novel approach. Potential ways to increase moderate to high intensity activity among this population are to involve church-based organizations, create more safe places to play by increasing green space in urban areas, and to provide financial support for after-school programs and community centers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1124-1132
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. We thank the children for sharing their photographs and opinions with us. We would also like to thank local organizers specifically Julie Green and Rachel Greenwalt at the Ginew/Golden Eagle Program and Diana Adamson, Pat Koch, and Stephanie Siegel at the Boys and Girls Club.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Children
  • Low-income
  • Photovoice
  • Physical activity


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