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September 17, 2015 1:45 PMCategory: Nutrition, Physical Activity

6 Tools for Building Healthier Communities

tools-191794__180Plan4Health is all about building healthier communities. Eighteen Plan4Health coalitions are currently working with residents to expand community gardens, bring health elements to citywide plans, make walking to school safe — and more!

While Plan4Health coalitions might make it look easy, we know that impacting health across neighborhoods, cities, counties, and even entire regions can feel a little intimidating. How do you start to create change in your town? How do you reinvigorate the same old debate or tackle a new challenge?

Wherever you are when it comes to thinking about the intersection of planning and public health, Plan4Health has a webinar, fact sheet, case study, or report that could be the tool you need to move your work forward.

APA and APHA, with the expertise of partners and members from across the country, have built a library of resources for connecting planning and public health. Take a moment to check out six toolkits available on Plan4Health’s website — or come back to the newly created toolkits page whenever you have a moment to read more!

1. Comprehensive Plans and Health
The Comprehensive Plans and Health toolkit includes resources to successfully integrate health into the goals, objectives, and policies that encompass comprehensive plans. Comprehensive plans are a key way to impact the built environment as well as the policies that support public health and wellness. This set of resources includes a fact sheet, tutorial webinars, APA reports, and additional published materials that provide helpful data, examples, and further resources to incorporate health into comprehensive plans in your community.

2. Healthy Community Design
How do you talk about the health impacts of planning? How do you link issues like land use, transportation, and housing to health, and include community input at the same time? This toolkit can help planners, public health professionals, and the general public include health in the community planning process. Developed in partnership with APA’s Planning and Community Health Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative,the toolkit is composed of four elements that work to achieve this goal.

3. Health Equity
This toolkit provides resources to help users better understand health equity, health inequalities, and the social determinants of health. Information on how communities can work towards addressing existing issues is provided through a combination of presentations, resources, and hands-on practice. Resources within this toolkit include a training with interactive exercises and multiple webinars and case studies from public health leaders that highlight efforts throughout the U.S. to address some of the root causes of health inequities.

4. Health in All Polices
A health in all policies (HiAP) approach is an effective strategy for addressing complex factors that influence health and equity and is a collaborative approach to improving population health. HiAP helps to embed health considerations into the decision-making process across a wide array of sectors. This toolkit includes a comprehensive guide as well as a variety of HiAP-focused presentations and examples of HiAP implementation at the state and local levels.

5. Safe Routes to Parks
Access to green space ties directly to health and well-being, a connection now widely supported by evidence and accepted by policy makers. Today, ensuring access to green space for all people is a value that should be shared by every resident, community group, and government official. The Safe Routes to Parks toolkit includes resources for facilitating access to parks through walking, biking, or transit.

6. Transportation and Health
The Transportation and Health toolkit builds a bridge between the public health and transportation communities, to create a common language for use by public health advocates that ensures our voices are heard by those who need to hear them. This toolkit includes talking points, outreach materials, and other resources for talking about — and creating — healthier transportation.