When we talk about our health, it’s often understood as the sum of the choices we make: our diet, exercise habits, our mindfulness practices. However, research suggests that approximately 60% of what makes us healthy is determined by our built, social, environmental and economic environments. These factors, known as the social determinants of health, are outside our personal control and affect our health in ways that dwarf the impacts of our individual choices.

That’s where the Healthy Communities Approach comes in, helping local governments design these various environments to support maximum health and well-being. These forward-thinking planning and policy decisions both address current challenges and build resiliency for future ones. When local governments prioritize community health and well-being, they invest in their community – and see dividends in other areas for years to come.

What is Equity?

Equity is the fair distribution of opportunities, power, and resources to meet the needs of all people, regardless of age, ability, gender, income, education level, culture or background. Equitable communities consider how policy and the built environment are shaped by these factors, and strive to reduce barriers for individuals to lead healthy and happy lives.

The benefits of equitable policies are diverse and far-reaching. By including as many perspectives as possible during the planning process, the resulting project or program will be able to respond more appropriately to community needs, avoid costly oversights, serve a wider range of constituents, and build social cohesion and resilience in your community.

Healthy Communities resources