In 2014, the rate of physical inactivity in Dane County, Wisconsin was 18 percent and the adult obesity rate was 22 percent; six percent of the population had diabetes. Analysis from the University of Wisconsin showed that block groups that were more walkable and closer to public transportation also had lower rates of chronic disease.
The Capital Region Healthy Communities (CRHC) Plan4Health initiative responded to the analysis — and to health disparities — by proposing the development of a comprehensive data index. Development of the Active Living Index, a data tool to educate decision makers and planning and public health professionals, is complemented by the direct engagement of community-based partners in urban, suburban and rural target communities, including area food deserts.
Through an increased understanding of physical activity opportunities and healthy food options, the data index empowers target communities in Dane County to change their environments as well as provides a roadmap for the index to be replicated across the state. The Active Living Index is in the final stages of beta testing and is expected to be live by March 2016.
The CRHC initiative includes representatives from a range of perspectives in Dane County: the Regional Planning Commission, the City of Madison, the regional transportation planning agency, the University of Wisconsin, the Healthy Kids Collaborative, the local farmers’ market and food cooperative as well as Public Health Madison and Dane County itself. Bringing together key institutions and hiring residents from the target communities has ensured a comprehensive and balanced approach to the work.
The Active Living Index rural pilot site is the Village of Cross Plains. Residents responded very positively to the Plan4Health project and are excited about opportunities for active living in their community — a few of them filmed videos highlighting the challenges and potential solutions. Watch the Benson Family, Kaden, and the LIFE Foundation talk about their experiences.
Milena Bernardinello, Healthy Community Planner from Madison, and Anna Ricklin from APA presented Dane County’s Active Living Index at the Active Living Research Conference earlier this month.
Interested in learning more about the Dane County Plan4Health initiative? Visit the Peer Learning Network to watch Milena speak about the coalition’s data analysis and listen to a mini-webinar highlighting the coalition’s partnerships.
Images from Capital Regional Healthy Communities.