What do health departments, public safety, community and economic development, transportation departments, and schools have to do with each other?When it comes to a healthy environment, the answer is simple: everything!
A lot of work goes into creating a healthy environment, and it takes more than a health department to make the necessary changes. We’re not talking about setting up a fruit stand and building more gyms. The real key to a healthy community is all around you – so much so that you may not even notice it. Safe parks where children can play; sidewalks and crosswalks for residents to use; access to public transportation; a good relationship with schools, and local and affordable fresh produce – that’s what makes a community a healthy place to live, work, learn and play.
The Department of Public Health, through our Mass in Motion initiative, works with cities and towns to develop multi-sector partnerships. Why? To create environments where it’s easy for residents to eat healthy and be active.
So, what do those partnerships look like exactly?
With plans to build a bikepath that will eventually connect most of the south coast communities in the state, Mass in Motion communities Fall River and New Bedford partnered up with organizations whose work goes beyond nutrition and physical activity and crosses into the realm of transportation and land-use planning. Not only are the Mayors of New Bedford and Fall River on board, but so are Economic Development and Planning offices, the Cape Cod Commission, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and other path and greenway organizations that have all joined together to help turn the bikepath dream into a reality.
Unique partnerships are also being formed in Fitchburg, where they have a special focus on parks and recreation. Mass in Motion members there have teamed up with city officials, the Parks Board Commission, the Board of Health and the Recreation Department to assess the safety of their parks and create safer playgrounds where Fitchburg children can play.
Schools, where children spend most of their days, fit nicely into the mix as well. Mass in Motion Springfield took advantage of the existing relationship between the city Parks Department and local schools to create a joint-use agreement. This agreement now allows schools to stay open in the evening during the winter months so youth can be active in a fun, safe environment.
Gloucester’s Mass in Motion team worked with the City’s Department of Public Works and the Community Development Department to make incredible, much-needed changes to sidewalks, ramps, and streets throughout the city.
When it comes to creating a healthy environment, these non-traditional partnerships aren’t just a special advantage some communities have over others. Bringing these unique partners together allows for the sharing of expertise that each department or organization brings to the table. Working together allows for a complete approach to improving a whole community, and is the key to making long-lasting changes that really impact our lives and our health.
October 24th is Food Day! posted on Oct 21
This year is the 3rd annual National Food Day which is celebrated every year on October 24th. Food Day is sponsored by the Center for Science and the Public Interest and promotes healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Last year, there were over 4,700 events across …Continue Reading October 24th is Food Day!
Million Hearts — Working to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke posted on Oct 20
Heart attack and stroke contribute to the 800,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease every year in the U.S. The burden to families and communities is devastating, and medical costs and lost productivity total nearly $1 billion per day. To address this crisis, the United States Department …Continue Reading Million Hearts — Working to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke
Poison Prevention! posted on Oct 14
Children are naturally curious. They are bound to explore and wander around the house as they play and learn. It is important to know that sometimes children can become exposed to dangers in the home without being aware of what they are doing. Each year, …Continue Reading Poison Prevention!