Healthy Community Design is a large idea that asks a simple question: How does the physical environment we live in affect our health everyday? Our work in healthy community design is focused on learning what things we currently have or are still missing that can help or harm our physical and mental health. Studies show that scientists can reasonably predict how long a person will live by their zip code.
How does public transportation affect our ability to get to the grocery store, see a doctor or go to a community park?
How easy is it to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables?
Do we each have enough spaces, places and opportunities to participate in recreational activities?
Do we have smoke-free spaces, alcohol and drug free places that are welcoming to families?
Are our communities safe and beautiful?
Through a grant funded by the Vermont Department of Health, we are in the process of answering those questions and more.
One project underway is to support the communities of Applegate Housing and the Bennington Housing Authority. As it is, there are no safe routes for children to walk from Applegate Housing to their school, Molly Stark Elementary in Bennington, Vermont. If children miss the bus, they must either walk in the road along a dangerous highway or miss school altogether. We are working with community members and organizations to find solutions, including a possible permanent walking path between the two housing developments.
Learn more about the Fit and Healthy Vermont Program here.