What is a Healthy Community?

Healthy Communities is a movement—the act of multi-sectoral collaborations incorporating health into decision-making across sectors and policy areas—to continuously improve the physical, social and economic environments where people live, work, play, and learn. Healthy Communities initiatives empower groups to work together in mutually supportive ways to create community-driven improvements that provide people with adequate resources and an environment that supports health-promoting behaviors. They are inclusive, accessible and available for all individuals, and aim to ensure that all people can reach their full health potential.

Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) is guided by a Healthy Communities Framework, placing emphasis on both individual and societal determinants that affect people’s health. This perspective recognizes that individuals are responsible for engaging in health-promoting behaviors, but should only be held accountable when they are free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible and affordable options. Healthy communities efforts are increasingly being recognized as those designed to ensure that everyone that lives, works, learns, and plays has these opportunities. Because this approach focuses on policy, systems, and environmental changes, the whole community benefits, not just targeted individuals.

Focus on the health of populations Address determinants of health Base strategies on best practices or evidence Take a multi-strategy approach that includes policy, systems, and environmental changes Engage multiple sectors including the public Assess processes and impact and ensure use of findings.

New York State Prevention Agenda 2013-2017

The Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) initiative is guided by the New York State Prevention Agenda 2013-2017, a five-year effort to make New York the healthiest state. The Prevention Agenda demonstrates how communities across the state can work together to improve the health and quality of life for all New Yorkers.

Two of the five Prevention Agenda priority areas, prevention of chronic disease (and its associated focus area of obesity reduction in children and adults) and promotion of a healthy and safe environment (with focus on the design and maintenance of the built environment) align directly with CHSC efforts. Together, multi-sector CHSC coalitions, comprised of local health departments, hospitals and community-based organizations, will implement strategies to achieve Prevention Agenda 2013-2017 goals and objectives. OPCE will support grantees by providing technical assistance, tools, and resources to implement plans advancing this agenda.

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