ACTIVE Louisville

Incorporating Active Living Principles into Planning and Design

This article examines the ACTIVE Louisville project, one of several Active Living by Design (ALbD) programs nationwide. ACTIVE Louisville worked in three low-income neighborhoods in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, during redevelopment of several large housing projects.

The goal of ACTIVE Louisville was to increase physical activity and active living by helping residents incorporate healthy habits into their daily lives. The program partnered with a wide set of community organizations to revitalize downtown Louisville.

Key Findings:

  • The ACTIVE Louisville project benefited from a wide set of resources that had already been brought together by the housing authority that developed the HOPE VI federal grant for redeveloping low-income housing in Louisville.
  • Key partners of ACTIVE Louisville included city planners, health officials, the housing authority, the transit authority and the Presbyterian Community Center.
  • The housing development, nearing completion in December 2009, has incorporated principles of active living, including the presence of wide sidewalks, safe street crossings and several green spaces.
  • While ACTIVE Louisville benefited from a set of engaged partners, it suffered from the absence of a clearly defined lead partner. This created difficulties both in explaining the work of the project and in generating financial resources. High levels of turnover in project management also made it difficult to maintain momentum throughout the project.
  • Improvements to policies and physical spaces appeared more likely to have a lasting effect on a community than programs and promotions, which are difficult to sustain after initial funding runs out.

ACTIVE Louisville was able to improve the physical environment in areas of downtown Louisville and to turn over key projects to other community organizations when funding ended. Beginning in 2006, the partnership also incorporated healthy eating into its projects using funding from Healthy Eating by Design.