Centralina Health Solutions Coalition is working to increase physical activity opportunities in at risk neighborhoods of Charlotte, NC. The Coalition will work together to analyze existing parks, active transportation networks, and opportunities to share facilities in order to identify community needs and develop action plans to address barriers to living healthy. By implementing the following strategies, CHSC will make progress on its overall goal to decrease health disparities in Mecklenburg County’s target Public Health Priority Areas.
1. Community Needs Assessment- review existing plans and neighborhood board retreat notes and hold focus groups to apply a “health lens” to neighborhood planning initiatives and discuss barriers to being physically active within select neighborhoods.
2. Walking and Biking Audits- examine the street and greenway network within the community to determine if there are safe places to walk and bike to popular destinations such as schools, parks, libraries, churches, transit stops, etc. Make recommendations to improve the network to promote safe walking and biking for all ages and abilities.
3. Shared Use Agreements- identifying existing shared use agreements within the community and discussing potential agreements to increase access to physical activity opportunities with schools, churches, hospitals, public buildings, etc. Will also develop model language and a shared use toolkit to promote increased shared use agreements throughout the region.
4. Park Access Audits- examine the availability and access routes to existing neighborhood and community parks and recommend ways to improve access, safety, and activities within the park to increase park use by all ages and abilities.
5. Communications Campaign- build off efforts of Coalition members to further promote places and free programs for being physically active in these neighborhoods.
6. Replication- develop toolkits, case studies, presentations, and evaluation of the project to facilitate replication in other counties within the Centralina Region and North Carolina.
The project targets an area within Mecklenburg County in which there is demonstrable health inequity compared with county averages. The Public Health Priority Areas (PHPA) were selected based on indicators of social determinants of health using the Charlotte Mecklenburg Quality of Life Explorer interactive mapping system. These determinants include race/ethnicity, economic characteristics and assistance, educational attainment, health and safety, housing, and transportation.
There are 63,547 people living within the PHPA or approximately 6.4% of Mecklenburg County’s population. The vast majority of the population within the PHPA is African American (74.4%) or Hispanic (13.8%). Median household income and the employment rate is significantly lower in the PHPA and the percentage of the PHPA population receiving food and nutrition services is significantly higher. Housing within the PHPA is older and less valuable and subsidized housing and rental properties more prevalent. Education rates are also significantly lower for the PHPA with fewer people having either a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree, and lower rates of graduation and test proficiency.
Although health indicators for this scale of geography is limited, what is available paints a clear picture of health inequity. The life expectancy of someone living in the PHPA is 7 years less than someone living elsewhere in the county. The rate of births to adolescents is more than double in the PHPA and low birth weights and lack of prenatal care is common. Although proximity to low-cost health care, public outdoor recreation, and grocery stores is greater or equal in the PHPA, this is due mainly to greater population density; however, barriers to access these resources still exist (safety, affordability, and quality). Proximity does not equate to access in the PHPA, but the elements of access (sidewalks, transit service, parks), represent opportunities for physical activity and access to jobs, housing, services, and medical facilities.
Centralina Council of Governments
Mecklenburg County Health Department
Charlotte Mecklenburg Planning
Charlotte Neighborhood and Business Services
Charlotte Department of Transportation
Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department
Healthy Weight Healthy Child Coalition
Charlotte Area Transit System
On April 22 more than 50 planners, public health officials, parks and recreation professionals, and elected officials, from across North Carolina gathered for the Centralina Health Solution’s “Walkability Audit and Park Access” workshop at the Dorothy Waddy Pavilion in Charlotte. It was the first workshop held locally to combine walkability and park access as part of the Plan4Health grant.
“During CONNECT Our Future, our region’s residents identified transportation options including walking and parks and open space as priorities for future planning initiatives,” said Michelle Nance, Planning Director at Centralina COG and introductory speaker at the Centralina Health Solution’s “Walkability Audit and Park Access” workshop.
This daylong workshop included presentations by Michelle Nance, Scott Curry from Charlotte Department of Transportation, and Jacquie Simmons from the North Carolina Office of Health and Disability. Following introductory presentations on street design for walkability and increasing access to parks for every age and ability, participants broke into smaller groups to gain hands-on experience using AARP’s “Sidewalks and Streets Survey” or the “ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities: Play Areas.”
Workshop participants commented that this event helped equip them to view their streets and play spaces differently and consider short and long term solutions to increasing walkability and park access in their communities.
“We are thrilled that the Plan4Health grant that Centralina COG received from the American Planning Association (APA), in partnership with the North Carolina Chapter of APA, has allowed us to offer these important training opportunities for cross-sector professionals to learn how to design their communities to promote health and well-being” said Katherine Hebert, Healthy Community Design Specialist at CCOG.
This workshop was the result of the combined efforts of the Plan4Health grant coalition members from the Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte Department of Transportation, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the North Carolina State Health Department.
For more information on the Plan4Health grant, contact Katherine Hebert at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 704-372-2416.
Presentations and Tools