Build a coalition to foster healthy communities
Creating healthy communities requires coordinated action at all levels of government, as well as the involvement of stakeholders outside government. The State can promote collaboration and coordination by establishing a "healthy community" or "active living" task force made up of health agencies, local and state land-use planners, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, health advocacy groups, smart growth organizations, the building industry, environmental groups, health promotion professionals, nutritionists, public safety officials and other interested parties.
The task force should explore ways to promote healthier communities through changes in programs and policies. States may also prefer to strengthen the role of existing intergovernmental coordinators by mandating that they perform specific tasks and goals related to creating healthy communities.
The first step in building a coalition focused on community health is to convene leaders who are interested in promoting healthy lifestyles. It's important to include stakeholders outside the public health realm whose actions can have a direct impact on health and safety.
The group should develop suggestions for policy changes and set a course for implementation. When considering policies, the group should be focused on measurable results that can be achieved and replicated in a range of communities. Regular group contact and dialogue are essential to ensure that goals are established and commitments are fulfilled. Information exchange tools, such as Web sites and listservs, handy ways for participants to share of best practices.
- Colorado's Active Community Environments
Colorado's Active Community Environments task force is a product of the Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's statewide initiative to promote healthy, active lifestyles. The Active Community Environments Task Force includes representatives with knowledge of public health, transportation, planning and design issues.
The task force has developed programs that have helped to create better walking and biking environments for communities across the state, has sponsored annual statewide workshops, and has delivered assistance and training to communities and local health departments. In fiscal year 2007-8, five communities received Active Community Environments' grants for policy and infrastructure improvements that can contribute to achieving active communities.
— LiveWell Colorado