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Healthy Community Design & Livable Communities

Healthy community design is planning and designing communities that make the healthy choice the easy choice. it makes healthy lifestyle choices easy and accessible for all community members. Healthy community design links the traditional concepts of planning (such as land use, transportation, community facilities, parks, and open space) with health themes (such as physical activity, public safety, healthy food access, mental health, air and water quality, and social equity issues).

Planning and Community Health Center
The Planning and Community Health Center advances practices that improve human environments to promote public health through active living, healthy eating, and health in all planning policies.

Healthy Community Design Toolkit
This toolkit can help planners, public health professionals, and the general public include health in the community planning process

Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook
This workbook is intended as an outline and quick guide for incorporating public health considerations in the development of a park or trail.

Making Your Community Livable for All Ages: What’s Working!
This report is for local change agents who want to ensure that everyone can live and age well in their community. To achieve this goal, representatives from all public, private and nonprofit sectors must have a seat at the table. This includes community leaders of all types, representing aging, government, large and small businesses, academic institutions, and charitable/service, faith-based affinity and neighborhood organizations or groups. The report is intended as an engagement tool to energize community members who are taking on or ramping up their Livable Community work. As such, particular sections of the report may be more or less relevant for different readers and are clearly delineated to facilitate the review process.

Healthy Communities Initiative
The Healthy Communities Initiative was designed to enrich the debate on how cross-sector and place-based approaches to revitalize low-income communities might both revitalize neighborhoods and improve health.

Center for a Livable Future
Our work is driven by the concept that public health, diet, food production and the environment are deeply interrelated and that understanding these relationships is crucial in pursuing a livable future.

Building Healthy Places Toolkit 
This toolkit outlines opportunities to enhance health through changes in approaches to buildings and projects. Developers, owners, property managers, designers, investors, and others involved in real estate decision making can use these strategies and tactics to create places that contribute to healthier people and communities and to enhance and preserve value.

Healthy Communities Navigator
The Healthy Communities Navigator: Cross-sector Grants, Success Stories and Policy Papers is a dynamic searchable interactive platform that provides stakeholders with community and population health resources, grants and examples. The three core components of the Navigator are:

  • TFAH’s Cross-sector Grants, a searchable database of over 50 public and private community prevention funding sources at the local, state and federal levels.
  • Success Stories, typically first-person accounts of community and population health models, programs and policies that show how innovative work is being conducted at the implementation level through various funding sources.
  • Community & Population Health Policy Papers, a collection of the important literature, policy papers, resources and links related to population health and community prevention.

Parks: An Opportunity to Leverage Environmental Health
Do you know your local parks and recreation director? He or she could be a great public health ally. Parks and recreation departments align with environmental public health on many cross-cutting activities such as swimming pool inspections, mosquito control, rabies management, and food permits. Parks also provide children access to safe and healthy places to play. Furthermore, they can mitigate safety hazards by protecting land such as flood plains and unstable slopes from inappropriate development. More…

Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook: A Tool for Planners, Parks & Recreation Professionals, and Health Practitioners
This workbook is intended as an outline and quick guide for incorporating public health considerations in the development of a park or trail. The workbook is separated into five sections, along with appendices, all of which build on each other to strengthen the design and implementation of a community-based park or trail project. Each section should be probed for its relevance to the project and should be completed with community stakeholders and expert partners, if possible.

AARP Livable Communities
AARP Livable Communities supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns and cities to become great places for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life.

AARP Livability Index
The Livability Index scores neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. for the services and amenities that impact your life the most.

AARP Livability Index webinar 

The Livability Index is a signature initiative of the Public Policy Institute to measure the quality of life in American communities across multiple dimensions: housing, transportation, neighborhood characteristics, environment, health, opportunity, and civic and social engagement.

An interactive, easily navigated website, the Livability Index allows users to compare communities, adjust scores based on personal preferences and learn how to take action to make their own communities move livable.


Landscape Performance for Healthy Communities
Presented by the Landscape Architecture Foundation, this webinar presented an overview of the Landscape Performance Series, an online, interactive set of resources to help evaluate performance, show value and make the case for sustainable landscapes. Watch to learn how the Case Study Briefs, Benefits Toolkit, and Fast Facts can be used to evaluate and demonstrate the health impacts of projects and how you can be part of this growing online resource.

View slides: Part onePart twoPart threePart fourPart fivePart sixPart seven and Part eight.

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Implementing Comprehensive Healthy Community Design Plans
This webinar advises awardees on how to establish and implement equitable, comprehensive healthy community design plans that incorporate best practices in land use and development, multi-modal transportation networks, and site designs, with a goal of encouraging physically active travel and access to healthy food choices. The webinar will address the value of formally planning for healthy designs as well as explore the range of planning options – from city-wide comprehensive plans to more specific efforts such as trails and open space, Safe Routes to School, or Complete Streets implementation plans. Presenters wil share how their coalitions, community leaders, municipal and regional agencies, and other stakeholders work together to implement their plans.

Learning objectives:

  • By the end of this webinar, attendees are expected to be able to:
  • Identify at least one core principle of healthy community design.
  • Determine the most useful approach in advancing healthy design in their own community.
  • Provide key decision makers with at least one reason for the importance of implementing healthier community design in plans, ordinances, and routine practice.


  • Mark Fenton, Adjunct Associate Professor, Tufts University
  • Leslie Meehan, Director of Healthy Communities, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Laura Garrett, Community Initiatives Lead, Columbus Regional Health/REACH Healthy Communities, Columbus, Indiana

View slides: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4; and Part 5.

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