Location: Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky, population 615,366
The Problem: Residents living in the 12 urban neighborhoods in the Louisville metropolitan area have statistically poor health outcomes resulting in premature death.
Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge Approach: The West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative intends to build a culture in Louisville where low-income, urban residents connect to nature. Based upon research, we propose that connecting to nature improves physical and mental health by increasing physical activity and reducing toxic stress, and increases social cohesion which deters community crime. The Initiative has three phases. The Phase 1 objective is to plan for a nature-based educational and recreational environment that addresses the root causes of poor health outcomes and provides an environment that promotes health equity. Phase 2 leverages local, state and national partnerships building community relationships and the capacity of residents to engage in recreational activities in west Louisville, leading to a culture of embracing the outdoors. Phase 3 involves implementing environmental changes by creating outdoor infrastructure in west Louisville, leading to healthier residents. Having achieved phase 1, the multi-sector partners will implement phase 2 during the next two years.