The Healthy Parks Plan for Travis, Bastrop, and Caldwell counties used parks to maximize health benefits, improve equity, and help local communities expand park access for all.
Guided by public health research and community participation, the Healthy Parks Plan provides design guidelines, expands access, and identifies investments to improve community health and equity.
The Healthy Parks Design Guidelines, supported by recent public health research, give guiding principles for what makes a park a “healthy” park and provide three design toolkits – a physical, mental, and environmental health toolkit for planners and designers to use when designing parks for public health.
The Healthy Parks Plan improves community health by expanding access to the benefits of parks. The plan advances equity in the region by directly engaging and prioritizing resources for communities with the greatest need. The project identified obstacles for using parks, and identified park investments that will do the most to improve community health and equity.
Close-to-home parks can play critical roles in fostering community health and well-being. Research shows that access to parks has mental and physical health benefits, including lowering stress, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease.
Parks strengthen communities by building social connections, connecting people to nature, and improving the environment. Increasing access to parks can benefit all residents by: providing opportunities to exercise – one of the most important ways people can improve their health; creating welcoming green spaces where residents can relax and spend time outdoors – reducing stress and risk of chronic disease and increasing overall well-being; increasing social connections and community cohesion – combating the serious health impacts of social isolation and loneliness; and improving local air and water quality and mitigating climate impacts – such as flooding and rising temperatures.
Through a data-intensive mapping approach, an equitable community engagement effort, and research-supported design guidelines, the Healthy Parks Plan identified the community’s greatest park priorities, obstacles, and park investments to have the greatest community health impact in the region.