Community Transformation is a movement occurring across the nation that is changing the way we look at health and prevention of chronic diseases. In the Summer and Fall of 2013, Asakura Robinson, along with our partner Traffic Engineers, Inc., conducted a series of Healthy Community Design Workshops in five different Houston communities for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, focusing on the intrinsic relationship between the way we design cities and the health of our communities.
The workshops brought together community leaders, professionals from the health and design field, and policymakers from the City of Houston to discuss topics at the nexus of health and urban design, such as walkability, open space, active transportation, access to healthy foods. As the facilitators, we presented facts, research and shared initiatives in both Houston and other cities where people are making progress and effecting positive change. We led a walking tour in each neighborhood, encouraged participants to identify key challenges and opportunities, and moderated small discussion groups for community leaders to develop strategies and solutions that they could then act on.
The workshop model is intended to promote and increase engagement, commitment, and knowledge among individuals at decision and policy making levels. It is explicitly designed to bring together community-based organizations, community leaders and policy makers to discuss healthy communities from a diverse range of perspectives. This model provides an opportunity for champions to step forward to promote and lend visibility to the movements to improve health and to enhance livability in Houston.