The Healthy Communities Coalition seeks to develop An Active Living Wayfinding System for parks and along urban trails in the greater Helena, Montana area to increase participation in physical activity and improve access to nutritious food programs.
The Health Communities Coalition project was to create a wayfinding system and communication plan to make a built environment and systems changes. The Coalition held strategically planned events – a community decision maker luncheon and then a public open house in the city-county building that attracted city and county personnel to vote on the several proposed designs for the wayfinding family. Also the Project Coordinator made presentations at various meetings such as the Board of Health, Helena ADA Committee and the Combined City county Parks Board. The Coalition engaged the engineering, planning and parks and recreation staff at an early stage to improve the final product and to create greater support for Plan adoption upon completion.
The coalition was very intentional in the approach to gathering data that was inclusive of people of all abilites, ages and incomes. They conducted focus groups with people with disabilities and with low income, including seniors and people with young children receiving SNAP benefits. Working with the planning consultants, a wikimapping process was used and the consultants conducted focus groups to gather data on destinations and routes used by community members. The state expert advisor for the disability grant helped design and conduct alternative processes for people with disabilities, especially those who are blind or with low vision, so that they could give this map- based information. In addition, a public open house was held. Overall participation was tremendous and resulted in over 1,000 impressions received from the community.
The Healthy Communities Coalition is comprised of strong community leaders and partners, including CEOs, officials and a mayor. The Coalition is strong and interwoven in the context of our long term community health improvement efforts. Throughout the project, members reached out to their boards and constituents to move the project forward. As they complete the final stages of implementing the wayfinding system, several members are shouldering some vital next steps such as soliciting sign fabrication bids, applying for funding, etc.
In the News:
Lewis and Clark Public Health
Association Western Central Chapter
Helena Parks and Recreation Department
Helena Non-Motorized Travel Advisory Council
Bike Walk Helena and Bike Walk Montana
Midtown Neighborhood Association
Safe Routes to School
Montana State University Extension Service
Montana Independent Living Project
Montana State Parks Recreational Trails Program
Helena Food Share