By Lucy Connery
The modern era Healthy Communities revolution is a global, quality of life improvement movement that began to spread worldwide in the 1980s through the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Healthy Communities approach to positive community culture change was unique in that it strategically addressees both human behaviors and the social, economic and environmental factors that impact our health and quality of life. The movement is driven by the social capital-building public, private, nonprofit and citizen collaboration in creating their community’s better future.
In 1989, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services partnered with the National Civic League (www.NCL.org) to launch the Healthy Communities Movement in America. In that same year, the newly founded Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, inspired by the U.S. Healthy Communities initiative, adopted its mission of “creating healthy communities.”
Fast forward 30 years, in response to the recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 10th Annual County Health Rankings (released March 2020), the Wellness Institute team launched a decade-long strategic initiative to more aggressively address the health behaviors and social/ecological determinants of health that together impact the quality of life in the Erie and Niagara counties.
The Healthy Communities 2030! Initiative is an ongoing, year-round comprehensive approach to quality of life improvement that addresses four of the major health behaviors and the social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to people’s health.
The WNY WALKS! Initiative works underneath the Healthy Communities 2030! umbrella to address regular physical activity in the form of walking, as it is the most accessible, affordable, and easy-to-do form of physical activity. Walking an accumulated 30 minutes a day can bring health benefits such as decreased stress, improved mobility and flexibility, improved cardiovascular health, and even improvements in physical health like muscle toning. We partner with organizations like Explore Buffalo, GoBike Buffalo, the Sunset Striders, Hamburg Moves!, and others to promote and facilitate improved walkability and increased regular physical activity.
The Healthy Communities 2030! initiative addresses health as a metric for quality of life. We collaborate with our local leaders and communities to strengthen and empower us to achieve the progress we all want!
To get involved in this health-enhancing initiative, take the first step by contacting us at BeActive@City-Buffalo.org or CreatingHealthyCommunities.org.
Photo: Lucy Connery is associate director at Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo.