According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of infirmity. A healthy community as described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 report is one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and social environments, helping people to support one another in aspects of daily life and to develop to their fullest potential. Healthy places are those designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borders — where every person is free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible, and affordable options.
Center for Disease Control or CDC’s Built Environment and Health Initiative (also known as the Healthy Community Design Initiative) works to improve public health by:
- Linking public health surveillance with community design decisions;
- Improving community design decisions through tools such as Health Impact Assessment;
- Educating decision makers on the health impact of community design;
- Building partnerships with community design decision makers and their influencers;
- Conducting research to identify the links between health and community design; and
- Translating research into best practices.
Healthy community design can improve people’s health by:
- Increasing physical activity;
- Reducing injury;
- Increasing access to healthy food;
- Improving air and water quality;
- Minimizing the effects of climate change;
- Decreasing mental health stresses;
- Strengthening the social fabric of a community; and
- Providing fair access to livelihood, education, and resources.