The Kentucky Coalition for Healthy Communities is partnering with a multidisciplinary group of state-wide organizations to improve access to affordable, local produce and increase opportunities for physical activity for Kentuckians age 45 years and older living in rural parts of the state.
The Kentucky coalition used five strategies as a part of their community action plan in Exurban Louisville. Through these strategies, the coalition reached approximately 285,000 people in the target geographic region.
The coalition developed a way to implement local community change through a regional coalition. The counties around Louisville were all very independent entities, so engaging them as a region would not be as successful. Overcoming this barrier required making sure the larger coalition, had representation at all the local community health groups. For example, the coalition did not operate in Oldham County prior to the Plan4Health funding, and did not have established partnerships related to physical activity and nutrition. However, the Oldham County Health Department had a robust drug free community’s coalition working to reduce drug and alcohol use in the county. The coalitions were joined and discovered that their initiative had a healthy choices component, which led to establishing a “Better Choices” workgroup for Oldham County to help drive the Plan4Health work in the county.
The biggest successes of the Plan4Health funding was that it opened public health coalition members up to the Planning field and the large scale impact involvement with Planning can have on communities. Due to the grant, the coalition has become involved with Louisville’s comprehensive plan update to make sure that older adults and persons with disabilities are being considered as the city updates their plan for the next 20 years. In addition, the coalition is working with KIPDA’s Public Administration department to help the rural region receive the designation of Age Friendly counties from AARP and the World Health Organization. This designation will encourage counties and local authorities to plan their communities to allow adults of all ages to comfortably age in place, which is integral to improving health and wellness in the region.
In order to continue the work of Plan4Health, the coalition recruited program champions and partners through joining local coalitions and integrating the missions. They have used mutually beneficial goals to develop some of the strongest partnerships in their target communities. They have found champions in each county through partnerships and involvement with several agencies, including health departments and local county extension offices. These partnerships have insured that the work will continue after grant funding ends because the discussions around health and wellness are now ingrained in the organizations.
Kentuckiana Planning and Development Agency
Kentucky Public Health Association
The Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging
Kent School of Social Work
Tri-County Community Action Agency
Multipurpose Community Action Agency
North Central Health District
Oldham County Health District
Shelby County Cooperative Extension Service
Bullitt County Health Department