Healthy Places by Design is working with Impact Alamance and Burlington Parks and Recreation to develop and guide the Alamance Wellness Collaborative. The collaborative focuses on policy, systems, and environmental changes that support active living and healthy food access in Alamance County. Members include the leaders from many of the municipalities in the county working in parks and recreation, city and regional planning, housing, health care, higher education, others in local government, and nonprofits, among others.
Healthy Places by Design provides technical assistance and training to key stakeholders (elected officials, collaborative members, and other health advocates) who create and shape policy, systems, and environmental change strategies that allow all community members in Alamance County to have access to healthy options. Healthy Places by Design co-facilitates a county-level group, the Alamance Wellness Collaborative, to support built environment changes that increase opportunities for community members to achieve their full health potential. In partnership with Impact Alamance and other leaders, our team brings strategic planning supports, evidence-based and experiential learning opportunities, and invites local leaders to present issues that are most relevant to residents’ priorities.
In 2020, we worked alongside Collaborative members to deepen our understanding of the racial and historical events that shaped the systems and built environment in Alamance County. This was challenging and important work for the Collaborative, especially when we were limited to meeting virtually and were forced to create more innovative trust-building activities. We helped Collaborative members uncover local histories and policies in order to identify areas for improvement and explore strategies for changes leveraging the Collaborative’s strengths.
Additional services provided included:
“We have been working with Healthy Places by Design for 6 years, and their team is always thinking strategically about how to move our work forward. These past few years were transformational for our local Wellness Collaborative. Members of the group went from understanding the principles of policy, systems, and environmental change to actually implementing these strategies in their cities and towns. Three municipalities adopted tobacco-free policies, two adopted Health in All Policies, and one city voted to undertake a major investment in a greenway that will connect local resources. I have no doubt we would not be seeing these successes if it weren’t for the guidance and leadership of Healthy Places by Design.”
Program Director, Impact Alamance
“The process for guiding a community towards design rooted in health is long term work, and reshaping perceptions of equity to create spaces that support neighborhoods lacking infrastructure is complex. We couldn’t accomplish our goals without the support and expertise of Healthy Places by Design.”
Director, Healthy Alamance
“These past few years were transformational. Members of the Collaborative went from understanding the principles of policy, systems, and environmental change to actually implementing these strategies in their cities and towns.”
Alamance County, NC advocates are practicing a culture of learning with a do-it-yoursel(ves) spirit. And unlike fixing a leaky dishwasher, can’t be finished in a day—they’re facing complex problems that impact the health of people who live in their communities. However, improving community health is a trial-and-error process that, like many DIY projects, requires helping hands along the way.
We were learning about the resurfaced basketball courts at Green Level Municipal Park when someone asked, “What’s that?” and pointed at a fenced area about 100 yards away. What I’ve learned about that area since then is as amazing as it is unique.
The Alamance Wellness Collaborative and the Alamance-Burlington School System (ABSS) in NC worked with Healthy Places by Design to open all elementary school playgrounds for community-use after hours. This was only the sixth school system in North Carolina to create such a policy and the first to actively promote it with signage.