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Where you live impacts your health and can even determine how long you will live and the quality of life you will experience. A healthy community as described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and social environments, helping people to support one another in aspects of daily life and to develop to their fullest potential. Healthy places are those designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borders—where every person is free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible, and affordable options.
The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.
The World Health Organization has identified 10 social determinants of health:
Healthy Community Design can improve people's health by:
View or download the Healthy Communities infographic
The built environment refers to the manmade structures with which we interact daily, such as transportation infrastructure, office buildings, neighborhoods, and urban greenspaces. Not all built environments are created with the health of residents in mind. For example, some communities are only accessible by car, are near major highways, and do not have safe access to parks or sidewalks.
Mecklenburg County Public Health works with the City of Charlotte and other municipalities to ensure that comprehensive land use policies and built environment standards are regulated across the County. We focus on providing all residents, no matter their age or ability, with equitable access to a network of safe active transportation choices such as sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and transit options.
We also partner with community members seeking changes in their built environment by connecting them with municipal resources, technical knowledge, and street safety recommendations. Making permanent changes to street designs can be an expensive and lengthy, but community placemaking efforts and small-scale interventions can be cost-effective and quickly implemented.