Research Week participants spotlight the developmental playground, disability and pioneer history
Research has established that play is important for social development, and social development is important to children with disabilities. But does it matter where children play?
Rebecca Buckley, a graduate student from the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department at Utah State University, is investigating the effects of a play environment on social development. Her research included evaluating the CPD’s developmental playground.
Justin Wilson, another LAEPD graduate student, is investigating gardening, recreation and their effects on depression in people with disabilities. “Both outdoor recreation and gardening have been shown to reduce feelings of depression,” he wrote in an abstract describing his work. “However, the effects of these activities on the depression levels of individuals with disabilities have not yet been studied.” He studied them for his Master’s thesis and concluded that current and lifetime gardeners had lower overall depression than non-gardeners.
Though the research was connected to his thesis, Wilson said his work at the CPD impacted his work. His research assistantship involved designing the CPD’s developmental playground. Both Wilson and Buckley are mentored by Dr. Keith Christensen, a CPD faculty fellow and an assistant professor in the LAEPD department.
Wilson and Buckley will present their work at the Intermountain Graduate Research Symposium later this week as part of the events at USU’s Research Week. The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, April 1 in the Taggart Student Center Colony Rooms and International Lounge.
Undergraduate student Jennifer Swift presented her disability and history research during a poster session on Undergraduate Research Day, March 29, in the Taggart Student Center. She combed through historical records of Utah pioneers, looking for references to disability, or the euphemisms used to describe it (words like “lame” or “fragile child.”) “In the coming months more research will go into finding out the accommodations made for, and views others had on these pioneers,” she wrote in her abstract. Her mentor is CPD Director Bryce Fifield.