Community Health

Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces: Creating Healthy Communities

In Indiana, community leaders make decisions about public spaces such as parks, trails, farmers markets, schools, and Main Streets every day that affect the health and wellness of the community. Using Purdue Extension’s Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces: Creating Healthy Communities program, facilitators coach communities through the development of a high-quality action plan for their public spaces. The plan can guide decisions and better position communities to take advantage of opportunities to promote healthy eating and active living.

Collaborative Planning for Creating Healthy Communities

Creating Healthy Communities was developed by a comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of Purdue Extension professionals from:

  • Health and Human Sciences
  • The Nutrition Education Program
  • Community Development
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

The program combines data collection and analysis with inclusive public deliberation to design high-quality action plans toward meaningful, sustainable improvements for public spaces focused on community health. The Enhancing facilitation process can take approximately 15-20 hours (or more) over three to six months.

Using a science-driven, participatory approach, this curriculum includes community design applications, information resources, case studies, and strategies to enhance food access and active living through community-based programs and improvements to public spaces.

Program Takeaways

The program aims to strategically guide policy, systems, and environmental changes relevant to how high-value public spaces promote healthy communities. As a result, communities that are prepared with a public spaces action plan can boost economic development, improve the quality of life, and create a healthier place for individuals and families. A completed high-quality public spaces action plan can be used to support:

  • comprehensive plan updates;
  • fundraising initiatives;
  • parks and recreation master plan updates; and
  • other community planning efforts for parks and public spaces.

Target Audiences

Our Indiana-based curriculum is designed for use by decision-makers and local leaders who have oversight and management of community public spaces, such as:

  • Parks boards and plan commission members
  • Public officials and their staff
  • Members of organizations whose missions relate to services, programs, or management of public spaces

To learn more, contact a member of the campus team listed below. We will also connect you with your local county Extension office to develop a program that fits your planning needs.

Blake Connolly
Assistant Director for the Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program 

Lisa Graves
Assistant Program Leader, Health and Human Sciences

Kara Salazar
Assistant Program Leader and Extension Specialist for Sustainable Communities 

Daniel Walker
Community Development Regional Educator 

Michael Wilcox
Program Leader, Purdue Extension Community Development 

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