Foundation in Action: Healthy Places
Healthy Places: Designing an Active Colorado is a five-year, $4.5 million initiative to inspire and support the development of healthy communities. Through community-led processes, Healthy Places will help Colorado communities become healthier places to live, work and play. The initiative aims to reduce obesity by fostering a built environment where it is easier, safer and more appealing to walk, play and engage in daily activities that encourage movement, connection and fun.
During the first phase of Healthy Places, the Foundation selected three communities to participate in an advisory panel process with the Urban Land Institute. Selected communities also will receive follow-up technical assistance.
From March until May 2013, experts from ULI will spend a week in each of the selected communities, helping assess ways to enhance physical connections and encouraging more walking, biking and playing. The ULI panels will tour the areas, interview residents, business and property owners, city staff, elected officials and others and make recommendations on how to make the communities healthier and more focused on active living. Communities that complete the panel process will have the opportunity to apply for funding to implement their plans.
In late 2012, the Foundation received 26 requests for participation (RFPs) for the Healthy Places initiative from communities across the state.
Among those, the three communities selected to participate in the initiative are: The southeast portion of Arvada (a suburb in northwest metro Denver), Lamar (a small, rural town in southeastern Colorado) and Westwood (an urban neighborhood in southwest Denver).
A suburb in northwest metro Denver, Arvada has a population of roughly 108,000. The study area for the Healthy Places initiative is a small pocket of Arvada where about 22,000 people live.
Needs and opportunities: For the purpose of the Healthy Places initiative, the city and its partners identified part of Arvada with the largest barriers to active living. While the City of Arvada has developed plans and strategies to improve walk-ability and bike-ability in the study area, very few have been implemented as of yet. Stakeholders also identified a need to improve access and connectivity to open space from neighborhoods.
Community partners: City of Arvada, Arvada City Council, Arvada Sustainability Advisory Committee, Transportation Advisory Committee, Arvada Planning Commission, Arvada Urban Renewal Authority Board, Arvada Parks Advisory Committee, Jefferson County Health Department, Denver Urban Gardens, Apex Park and Recreation District, Bike Colorado, Bike Jefferson County, Carin Clinic, and Jefferson County Head Start.
March ULI panel:
Located about 20 miles west of the Kansas border, the city of Lamar is the county seat of Prowers County, which has an overall population of about 12,500.
Needs and opportunities: LiveWell Prowers County, a community-based public health initiative, has built a strong coalition of diverse stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of its residents. Lamar’s poverty rate is 23 percent (compared with 12.6 percent statewide). Meanwhile, Lamar’s obesity rate is well above the Colorado norm at 39 percent. Through its outreach efforts, the Healthy Places Steering Committee identified a need to invest in infrastructure that promotes walk-ability, bike-ability and access to open space and recreational sites in the community.
Community partners: LiveWell Prowers County, High Plains Community Health Center, Prowers Medical Center, The City of Lamar, Lamar Parks and Recreation Department, Prowers County, Lamar School District, Southeast Mental Health Services, Prowers County Public Health and Environment, WIC, Lamar Chamber of Commerce, Lamar Partnership Inc., Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), Welcome Home Child and Family Development Center.
April ULI panel:
A densely populated neighborhood in southwest Denver, about 15,500 people reside in Westwood.
Needs and opportunities: A group of organizations and individuals recently joined together to form Westwood Unidos, a coalition dedicated to driving transformative change in the neighborhood. The coalition has identified the need to invest in basic infrastructure that encourages walking, biking and recreating. Specific land-use issues to explore in Westwood include sidewalk networks and walk-ability, crossing street safety, a shortage of bike paths and amenities. Improvements in pedestrian-level lighting, graffiti control and transit access could improve the quality of life and alleviate perceptions that the neighborhood is “not safe.”
Community partners: Residents, LiveWell Westwood,Westwood Unidos, Urban Land Conservancy, Business and Culture West (BuCu West), Revision International, The Denver Foundation, Extreme Community Makeover, Grandmother’s Herbs and Cures, Westwood Residents Association and many more.
May ULI panel:
To learn more about Healthy Places, and the Colorado Health Foundation’s work around the built environment, read this Health Relay blog posting.
Also, a one-page fact sheet contains answers to frequently asked questions about the Healthy Places initiative. The fact sheet also is available in en Español.
For questions regarding Healthy Places, please contact Hillary Fulton, senior program officer - Healthy Living, 303.953.3626.