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Our Rural Pennsylvania includes the stories and photography of 26 mothers and grandmothers living across 16 counties in rural Pennsylvania. They submitted these stories in the first half of 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants joined the project through their engagement with community organizations across the state serving families and children. Once participants consented to joining the project and had a conversation with the project director, they received instructions through the phone and in print. They were invited to submit photos in response to three questions:

What in your community or environment affects your health and well-being or your child’s health and well-being?

What would you like to see changed in your community to improve your health and well-being or your child’s health and well-being?

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed, helped, or hurt your health and the health of your children?

After submitting the selected photos to the project, participants took part in an in-depth two-part interview in which they explained the context and meaning behind their selected photos and shared their thoughts on how they would like to see their community better support families.


These interviews were audio recorded and transcribed, and the photos were assigned to an approximate location*. Both the interview transcriptions and the photo archive were coded for research purposes (articles forthcoming). Select photos and descriptions were compiled for the atlas using StoryMap JS.

*Participants home locations are not revealed.

Recruitment Partners 

Our Rural Pennsylvania is indebted to many agencies across Pennsylvania who shared the project with mothers and caregivers in their network. 

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Support & Funding

This project was conceived and started as dissertation research at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. It is affiliated with PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is led by Jennifer Whittaker.  

Funding support came from the Health Policy Research Scholars Program, PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Qualitative Methods Research Affinity Group, and the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design.

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