The conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age have an impact on health. They are called the social determinants of health, and the design of a community is one of these conditions. The primary goal of our Healthy Community Design initiative is to assist communities to create environments that prevent disease and injury by providing safe, pleasant and accessible infrastructure for people to walk, bicycle and use public transit. To do this we:
- Coordinate and lead walk or bike audits.
- Provide public health data and information to inform planning.
- Offer examples of health-promoting language to incorporate into town plans.
See a list of healthy community design recommendations . In the Burlington Local Health Office we have longstanding partnerships with those who work in transportation, land use, and parks and recreation. These formal partnerships began with our participation in the ECOS Project and Plan. As a result of this work, our local health staff have been at the table with community partners helping to promote healthy community design for over five years. Recent initiatives in which we have participated include:
- Chittenden County Active Transportation Plan – provides recommendations for facilities, programs and policies to support active transportation (walking, bicycling, running, etc.) in the region.
- Plan BTV Walk/Bike – a citywide planning effort to enhance safety and increase active mobility in Burlington.
- Go Chittenden County! - a partnership of the region’s transportation service providers, organizations, and advocates collaborating to make getting around the region easier.
Health Impact Assessements
A Health Impact Assessment studies the potential impacts to health of decisions about policies or programs. We have conducted Health Impact Assessments on four projects in our district. The first was conducted as a companion to the North Avenue Corridor Study in Burlington, the second assessed a transportation project in Milton, and the third focused on the Plan BTV South End and examined the potential mental health, physical activity and access impacts of this evolving plan. The fourth focused on health impacts of proposed changes to school transportation policy in the newly consolidated Essex Westford School District .