October 2002

Grant Results

SUMMARY

To help in the design and launch of its new national program, Active Living by Design, a five-year, $16.5-million initiative to infuse activity-promoting goals and processes into community planning efforts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported two meetings of experts.

One was organized by the National Center for Bicycling & Walking (previously the Bicycle Foundation) and the other by the Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET).

Key Results

  • The National Center for Bicycling & Walking held an expert planning meeting, "Promoting Physical Activity Through Community Design: Partnerships with Advocates," on January 10–11, 2001, in Washington, D.C., and reported the following findings to RWJF:
    • A well-coordinated effort to increase physical activity in the United States requires that differences among the disciplines in language, technology and opportunity be addressed.
    • Additional institutional capacity is necessary to affect change in physical activity promotion in a meaningful way: Many programs are small and in formative stages.
    • There is tremendous opportunity for collaboration on critical improvements in health status and overall quality of life among architectural, community-based, environmental, foundation, government, health, law enforcement, parks and recreation, research, transportation, and urban planning organizations and agencies.
  • HRET held a meeting with 26 leaders from community design organizations and interest groups on November 27–28, 2000 in Washington, D.C.
  • HRET produced a white paper, Active Living Through Community Design, which highlighted the link between health and community design and concluded the following:
    • A concentrated effort across sections is needed to make public health objectives and outcomes an integral part of community design.
    • A lack of common language and understanding of the various sectors' approaches is a major barrier to successful collaboration.
    • Quality of life movements are natural starting points for pursuing active living goals.
    • Local elected officials and businesses should also be involved in programs to promote physical activity.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a $31,454 grant to the National Center for Bicycling & Walking from November 2000 to January 2001 and a $24,689 grant to HRET in January 2001 to support the meetings.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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NCBW GRANT (ID# 040686)

NCBW organized and facilitated an expert planning meeting entitled "Promoting Physical Activity Through Community Design: Partnerships with Advocates" on January 10–11, 2001, in Washington.

The goal of the meeting was to assemble representatives from different sectors to discuss how they could work together to create active community environments. Some 34 participants from 21 development, planning, public health, transportation, and other organizations and agencies attended (see Appendix 1). The meeting highlighted issues in physical activity and the community environment and RWJF's strategy in the area of physical activity promotion, and provided a review of strategies and potential actions to promote change.

NCBW wrote a summary report for RWJF entitled Promoting Physical Activity Through Community Design: Partnerships with Advocates: Meeting Report (see Appendix 2 and the Bibliography for details). This report noted that:

  • A well-coordinated effort to increase physical activity in the United States, with participation from public health and other types of agencies and organizations, requires that differences among the disciplines in language, technology and opportunity be addressed.
  • Additional institutional capacity is necessary to affect change in physical activity promotion in a meaningful way. Many programs are small and in formative stages.
  • There is tremendous opportunity for collaboration on critical improvements in health status and overall quality of life among architectural, community-based, environmental, foundation, government, health, law enforcement, parks and recreation, research, transportation, and urban planning organizations and agencies.

NCBW sub-contracted with Sutton Social Marketing, a Washington-based consulting firm that helps nonprofit organizations and government agencies achieve social change, for assistance in writing this report. The meeting was the second in RWJF's Building Bridges seminar series. This series establishes partnerships to promote physical activity among professional groups and government bodies that are not usually associated with health outcomes.

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HRET GRANT (ID# 041029)

HRET produced a white paper to guide discussion at RWJF's "Promoting Activity Through Community Design Movements Experts' Meeting" and held a roundtable discussion at its own annual meeting that was used in developing the agenda for a November 27–28, 2000 experts' meeting. Held in Washington, the meeting convened 26 leaders from community design organizations and interest groups. This grant retrospectively supported these activities.

The white paper, entitled Active Living Through Community Design, highlighted the link between health and community design. The white paper presented the environmental implications for physical activity and the principles, goals and activity of quality of life movements that lay the groundwork for collaboration with the health field. It covered the following:

  1. physical activity in the United States
  2. the limitations of focusing on individuals to promote physical activity and the need to incorporate a focus on the environment
  3. the effects of social and physical environments on health and evidence of environmental interventions for improved physical activity
  4. the goals and strategies of community design movements and their implications for quality of life
  5. examples of community design that can influence physical activity
  6. a theory of action for health and community design collaborative approaches for active living (see Appendix 3)

HRET concluded that:

  • A concentrated effort across sections is needed to make public health objectives and outcomes an integral part of community design.
  • Quality of life movements are natural starting points for pursuing active living goals because they address a host of physical and social features of communities that contribute to health and well being, broadly defined. A lack of common language, and understanding of the various sectors' approaches is a major barrier to successful collaboration.
  • In additional to design and public health planners, local elected officials and businesses should be involved in programs to promote physical activity. Elected officials are gatekeepers to local action, where the work of changing environments and behavior takes place. Businesses can partner in marketing policy changes and social messages.

After the grant period, HRET revised the white paper and RWJF published it as part of Healthy Places, Healthy People: Promoting Public Health and Physical Activity Through Community Design, a report on the November 2000 experts' meeting. RWJF plans to disseminate the report to communities with quality of life movements, governors' associations, local government agencies and other interested parties.

Ten participants from 10 organizations attended HRET's roundtable discussion, entitled "City Planning: Implications for Health," held at its "Sixth National Community Care Network Conference, Beyond the Barriers: Building Innovative Networks of Care," November 2–4, 2000, in Denver (see Grant Results on ID# 039580).

This roundtable provided some general insights (e.g., it is necessary to work at the neighborhood level), identified barriers to incorporating health and city planning issues (e.g., the challenge of working with traditional networks of care), identified current models (e.g., grants to neighborhoods for civic improvement) and academic resources (e.g., urban planning schools), and outlined necessary resources and tools (e.g., professional training in community-based planning).

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Creating Active Community Environments

Grantee

Meeting on Creating Active Community Environments (Washington,  DC)

The Bicycle Federation

  • Amount: $ 31,454
    Dates: November 2000 to January 2001
    ID#:  040686

Contact

William C. Wilkinson, A.I.C.P.
(202) 463-6622
bikefed@aol.com

Grantee

Expert Meeting to Promote Activity Through Community Design (Chicago,  IL)

Health Research and Educational Trust

  • Amount: $ 24,689
    Dates: January 2001 to January 2001
    ID#:  041029

Contact

Mary A. Pittman, Dr.Ph.
(312) 422-2600
mpittman@aha.org
Gretchen Torres, M.P.P.
(312) 422-2638
gtorres@aha.org

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Participating Organizations and Agencies in ''Promoting Physical Activity Through Community Design: Partnerships with Advocates''

Bikes Belong Coalition
Brookline, Mass.

California Bicycle Coalition
Sacramento, Calif.

California Department of Health Services
Sacramento, Calif.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Ga.

Center for Neighborhood Technology
Chicago, Ill.

Center for Science in the Public Interest
Washington, D.C.

Environmental Defense Fund
Washington, D.C.

Interbike
Emmaus, Pa.

League of American Bicyclists
Washington, D.C.

Local Government Commission
Sacramento, Calif.

National Center for Bicycling & Walking
Washington, D.C.

National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity
South Norwalk, Conn.

National Governors Association
Washington, D.C.

Office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer
Washington, D.C.

Pyramid Communications
Seattle, Wash.

Rails to Trails Conservancy
Washington, D.C.

Rivers & Trails, National Park Service
Boston, Mass.

Surface Transportation Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

Scenic America
Washington, D.C.

Sutton Social Marketing
Washington, D.C.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Princeton, N.J.


Appendix 2

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Promoting Physical Activity Through Community Design: Partnerships with Advocates: Meeting Report

NCBW observed that:

  • There is a tremendous opportunity to link public health and physical activity promotion issues with other environmental and community design issues. A diverse group of organizations and disciplines is providing programs and activities that directly or indirectly promote increased physical activity.
  • Increased awareness of mutually supportive activities among various disciplines is needed. There are many channels of communication within particular disciplines, but few that reach across multiple disciplines. Differences in terminology are obstacles to increased dialog.
  • A range of communication channels is necessary to maximize the efforts of individuals and organizations. Web sites can store knowledge-based resources and supporting information, but serve best as a supplement to more active and interactive forums of exchange such as e-mail lists, discussion groups, and meetings and conferences.
  • More rigorous scientific research into the linkages between policy, community design and levels of physical activity is needed. For research to be useful in the public health context, it must meet high standards in design, investigation and analysis. Collaborative research and peer review would improve results.
  • There is insufficient capacity within public health agencies and other organizations to take advantage of current opportunities to increase levels of physical activity. Several organizations have taken measures to create new capacity locally. However, further efforts are constrained by the limited resources available to national/regional and local organizations. Small-scale grantmaking would help, possibly targeted to a geographic area, an interest or a need.
  • Physical activity promotion is often a target of opportunity — and a secondary factor in program development and deployment. Physical activity promotion is ancillary to the core mission of the organizations and thus, limited by scarce resources. Many participants were eager to learn of funding opportunities for physical activity promotion initiatives.
  • Given limited resources and the desire to avoid "reinventing the wheel," existing coalitions will play a critical role in moving the physical activity promotion agenda forward. Many coalitions are using strategic models that could easily accommodate work in the physical activity arena.
  • Partnerships between public health and other disciplines create benefits in a broad range of areas. The transportation advocacy community believes that public health can help legitimize and sell the transportation and "smart growth" agenda, which are strategies to revitalize neighborhoods and promote economic development without the negative effects of sprawl.
  • Many other public interest groups have also been very receptive to the public health message/issues, especially related to physical activity. The public health community should work with all of these groups/interests at the national, state and local levels. These groups must be brought together in the context of a vision for change that reflects the diversity of interest in achieving public health-related goals.


Appendix 3

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Active Living through Community Design White Paper

The theory of action outlined in the white paper is comprised of:

  • A strategy of cross-sectoral collaboration to change policies, practices and attitudes that affect opportunities to engage in physical activity.
  • Implementation activities
    • Create/retrofit physical environments to support physical activity.
    • Research, evaluate and disseminate good practices.
    • Shape attitudes toward physical activity as part of daily living and change norms of walking, biking and public transit as viable forms of transportation.
    • Create a learning network to spread the word about successful efforts currently underway.
  • Program development activity areas and examples
    • Develop strategic partnerships (quality of life movements, community-based organizations, schools, homebuilders, health care, all levels of government).
    • Collect data and evaluate outcomes (e.g., effects of changes in physical environment on long-term behavior).
    • Use social marketing and media advocacy (e.g., high profile spokespeople delivering messages to diverse audiences).
    • Target financial and infrastructure policy for sustainability (e.g., lobbying for highway trust funding for alternative transportation modes).
  • Indicators of progress
    • Increases in community, road and highway retrofitting projects.
    • More grant funding for research on intersections between design and public health.
    • Changes in norms, such as compact, mixed use development that makes cars unnecessary.
    • Policy changes in zoning ordinances and pro-public transit activities and incentives.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Reports

GRANT ID# 040686

Promoting Physical Activity Through Community Design: Partnerships with Advocates: Meeting Report. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Bicycling & Walking, 2001. Submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Sponsored Conferences

Promoting Physical Activity Through Community Design: Partnerships with Advocates, National Center for Bicycling & Walking for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, January 10–11, 2001, Washington, D.C. Attended by 34 people from 22 organizations, including National Center for Bicycling & Walking, National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, National Park Service, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Scenic America.

Presentations

  • Rich Killingsworth, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Ga.), "Trends in Inactivity and Obesity."
  • Bill Wilkinson, National Center for Bicycling & Walking (Washington, D.C.), "Creating Active Community Environments."
  • Karen Gerlach, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Princeton, N.J.), "RWJF's Strategy in the Area of Physical Activity Promotion."

Reports

GRANT ID# 041029

Torres GW and Pittman MA. Active Living Through Community Design. Chicago, Ill.: Health Research and Educational Trust, American Hospital Association, 2001. Submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Healthy Places, Healthy People: Promoting Public Health and Physical Activity Through Community Design. Princeton, N.J.: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2001.

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Report prepared by: Jan Hempel
Reviewed by: Lori De Milto
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Katherine M. Kraft

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