In Indiana, community leaders make decisions about public spaces such as parks, trails, farmers markets, schools, and Main Streets every day that affect the health and wellness of the community. Using Purdue Extension's Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces: Creating Healthy Communities program, facilitators coach communities through development of a high quality action plan for their public spaces. The plan can guide decisions and better position communities to take advantage of opportunities to promote healthy eating and active living.
Creating Healthy Communities was developed by a comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of Purdue Extension professionals from:
- Health and Human Sciences
- The Nutrition Education Program
- Community Development
- Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
The program combines data collection and analysis with inclusive public deliberation to design high-quality action plans toward meaningful, sustainable improvements for public spaces focused on community health. The Enhancing facilitation process can take approximately 15-20 hours (or more) over the course of three to six months. Using a science-driven, participatory approach, this curriculum includes applications of community design coupled with information resources, case studies, and strategies to enhance food access and active living through community-based programs and improvements to public spaces.
The goal is to strategically guide policy, systems, and environmental changes relevant to the ways in which high-value public spaces promote healthy communities. As a result, communities that are prepared with a public spaces action plan can boost economic development, improve the quality of life, and create a healthier place for individuals and families. A completed high quality public spaces action plan can be used to:
- Update comprehensive plans;
- Update parks and recreation master plans; and
- Support fundraising initiatives.
Our Indiana-based curriculum is designed for use by decision-makers and local leaders who have oversight and management of community public spaces, such as:
- Parks boards
- Plan commission members
- Public officials and their staff
- Members of organizations whose missions relate to services, programs, or management of public spaces
Blake Connolly; Daniel Walker, Kara A Salazar, Lisa Graves, Michael Wilcox