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The National Institutes of Health is set to spend more than $1.4 million in taxpayer funds to back a study on “anti-racist healing in nature.”
The study, which is currently being performed by San Francisco State University, began in September 2021 and is scheduled to conclude in August 2023. While the obligated funding for the research was $1,045,078, a revision to the agreement, dated June 7, 2023, notes that an additional $387,308 had been provided, bringing the total to $1,432,387.
Formally titled “Examining Anti-Racist Healing in Nature to Protect Telomeres of Transitional Age BIPOC for Health Equity,” the study posits that racial health disparities likely persist “due to racism and discrimination that increase chronic stress and limits access to the social determinants of health.”
The description of the grant says it is “community-prioritized research that will engage ancestral knowledges from different communities of color in a multilevel effort to address growing health disparities via intersectoral collaborators.” The strategy includes ensuring “equitable access to physical activity in public parks.”
“Health disparities are linked to chronic stress and the proposed research will gather knowledge about anti-racist healing in nature as a tool for stress reduction in BIPOC young adults,” the description continues. It also boasts that the $1.4 million study utilizes “cost-effective, low-resource interventions.”
“Although nature is an ancestral healing place for many communities, these spaces can be unwelcoming, unsafe, or triggering for people of color,” San Francisco State University’s website reads.
One article on the study published by SF State News reports, while “many individuals turn to nature for solace” in times of trouble, “this seemingly simple intervention is not always accessible to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities.”
Those who’d like to participate in the study, informally dubbed “From Hood to Woods,” must be between the ages of 18 and 26 and “identify as a person from the latine/x/o, Black, Pacific Islander, and/or Filipinx community.” Participants will receive more than $100 in compensation and will be taken on “Free weekend trips and rides to the Redwoods!”
A promotional poster encourages people to join the “community-engaged research project to reclaim nature in the Bay Area.”
The site also tells study participants to consider “What do anti-racist green spaces look like?” as well as “How do greenspaces make you feel ‘welcomed’ or ‘un-welcomed’?”
The grant funding is part of a broader program from the NIH aimed at advancing “health equity” and decreasing health disparities between different demographic groups.
The NIH and San Francisco State University did not respond to a request for comment.