Health does not happen solely inside the walls of a clinic or health system, but in the places where we live, work, play and worship. As health leaders, we all know the value a supportive environment plays in helping community members sustain healthful lifestyle behavior changes. Behavior change programs go hand-in-hand with policy, systems and environmental changes to create that supportive environment.
The built environment — the multifaceted infrastructure and physical environment in which we live — clearly has an impact on residents’ quality of life. Specifically in the area of physical activity, research shows that when a community increases or improves access to safe physical activity opportunities, it helps residents increase their level of physical activity.
Creating positive change in the built environment involves coordination with a variety of key partners throughout the community — many of whom have different perspectives, motivations, focus areas, and their own language that represents their field. Understanding who needs to be at the table, their role in the community, what motivates their decision-making process, as well as their language, is all vital to developing successful partnerships.
At Hearts Beat Back, our experienced team can help your community:
- Establish a vision and goals for your built environment work
- Identify who needs to be at the table
- Identify resources to help overcome language barriers
- Identify resources that bring partners to the table
- Identify strategies in various settings
- Understand the decision-making processes at the local level
- Connect you to national experts in the field to assist with your particular goals
- Overcome the “technical brushoff” that can sometimes occur
- Frame the issue to meet each respective partner’s motivations
- Help design demonstration or pilot projects
- Identify data resources
- Create local fact sheets
- Advise on communications strategies to help promote your agenda
Hearts Beat Back wanted to make it easier for people to be more physically active in the community of New Ulm, Minn. With the help of federal grant funding, project leaders worked to help create more opportunities for people to safely walk and bike in the community.