HKHC: Chicago, Illinois


Excerpt from Lessons for Leaders:

Chicago’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities partnership effectively used pilot testing to implement pedestrian safety improvements as part of a Safe Routes to Parks initiative in Humboldt Park and to institutionalize healthy-snack vending in the Chicago Park District.

For more information, read the full story.

July 2014

Chicago is the nation’s third-largest city, with such a diverse population that no single ethnic or racial group has a majority. Though celebrated for many attractions, it suffers from significantly less parkland than other major cities. And low-income communities lack green space and healthy food. Both deficits greatly influence childhood obesity and other health problems.

The Logan Square Neighborhood Association is leading the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) initiative here, along with the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA), the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) and Chicago Park District (CPD) who have collaborated for years on strategies to support non-motorized transportation, healthy eating and active living at the neighborhood level. The team wants to increase safe access to Chicago parks and expand healthier food options in and around the parks, especially in low-income communities of color.

Beginning in 2006, the team collaborated on a successful series of “Sunday Parkways” events that closed eight miles of a boulevard connecting three regional parks (Humboldt, Garfield and Douglas) and five diverse neighborhoods to vehicle traffic in order to create a safe space for pedestrians, cyclists, strollers and wheelchairs and inspiration for further community change. Building upon the momentum, knowledge, and relationships generated by the events, the team targeted five park-centric goals to expand access to healthy foods and play and improve the built environment at city’s parks: 1) healthier snacks and beverages in park vending machines; 2) traffic calming in and around parks for safe access; 3) increased use of green space among young children; 4) healthier options at park concessions; and 5) increased edible gardens on Park District property.

Some accomplishments include:

According to HKHC Project Director Lucy Gomez, “HKHC has played a key role in bringing parks to the spotlight in Chicago, improving communication among city departments, local experts, parks staff and volunteers, and advancing best practices within the Chicago Park District.”