Your zip code should not determine your lifespan or quality of life; however, this is too often the case for those living in neighborhoods with air pollution, unwalkable streets, inadequate parks, and few grocery stores. Some of the most influential factors that affect whether we get sick or stay healthy are the day-to-day experiences of our lives — our relationships, the air we breathe, how we get to work, and the quality of our housing, as just a few examples.
The innovative Healthy Places Toolkit, created by Asakura Robinson for the Episcopal Health Foundation, provides practical ideas that seek to address how these factors in the built environment negatively affect community health. The Toolkit provides cutting-edge recommendations for projects, programs, and policies for healthcare clinics and their partners to improve community health outcomes. It seeks to work across often overlooked areas of health by addressing nine impactful topics that ultimately improve health and address institutionalized racism and health equity issues. These topics include:
For example, in the Nature recommendation section, we propose implementing the Nature Rx program – this begins with clinics providing maps of local parks, trails, and nature centers to patients who receive nature “prescriptions” from their healthcare providers. As clinics grow in capacity and experience, they may expand to create NatureRx partnerships with local state parks, botanical gardens, and nature centers who may provide those prescribed a NatureRx with a free month of entry.
Our Transportation recommendation section takes a look at Complete Streets Policies, Tactical Urbanism and other ways to affect healthy change in our active communities. Within the Heat section, we focus on ways to reduce urban heat island effect through tree planting and other cooling strategies that create comfortable outdoor environments and reduce heat-related illnesses.
These ideas are broad-reaching- far beyond solely clinic use- and can be undertaken by a wide variety of organizations, including school districts, city urban planning offices, public health departments, and nonprofits nationwide. Often, the biggest impacts to community health will be made through strong and wide-reaching community partnerships. The Toolkit provides guidance on how clinics can develop partnerships with local non-profits, community organizations, activists, and municipalities to begin projects, programs, and policies that address the root causes of poor health.
If you want to learn more about how your organization can catalyze positive change in community health, download the toolkit here.
We want to hear what you think about such a solution, or how you have implemented any of our recommendations – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!