Partner in the Spotlight–Active Living By Design: Supporting Community-Led Change for Health
For over 10 years, Active Living By Design (ALBD) has supported community-led change by working with local, state and national partners to build a culture of active living and healthy eating. Recognizing the important influences of place, social context and culture on behavior, ALBD works to improve policies, systems and environments. They do this by supporting multidisciplinary partnerships, authentic community engagement, health equity and the social determinants of health.
First launched in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ALBD developed and implemented an innovative grant program focusing on active living and community design in 25 locations. The work expanded to include an equal focus on healthy eating as part of the national movement to prevent and reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, with an emphasis on communities at greatest risk. ALBD has also worked with other national, state and local funders to develop and implement their own initiatives.
During the past decade, ALBD helped nearly 200 multidisciplinary partnerships across the country achieve policy changes, improve the built environment and leverage additional funding to increase opportunities for active living and access to healthy foods.
The Active Living By Design team brings multidisciplinary experience in urban planning, public health, nutrition, public policy, community development, social work and communications.
Creating Connections and Developing New Leaders
ALBD strongly believes in the value of peer learning to advance this work. Intentional learning networks have built connections among community leaders working within and across the many disciplines that affect health. Working with local partnerships within North Carolina and across the nation, ALBD’s convenings and trainings have helped build capacity and knowledge and have deepened the ability of peer groups to collaborate to create healthier communities.
Guidance from ALBD’s project team has helped propel many up-and-coming professionals to significant leadership positions. For example, former grant coordinators have gone on to serve in higher-level professional roles, including congressional staff and senior positions in state departments of health and transportation. Others former grantees have been appointed to local and statewide leadership boards and/or progressed into positions as elected officials.
A Model for Healthy Community Change
ALBD’s Community Action Model and “5P Strategies,” developed to help guide the work of its first 25 grantees, uses a diagram to illustrate a process of community change. It depicts how active living and healthy eating supports can be incorporated into a community and should ultimately result in healthier behaviors. The 5P Strategies are recommended as a comprehensive approach for increasing active living and healthy eating in a community. The strategies are: Preparation, Promotions, Programs, Policy and Physical Projects.
Collaborating for a Healthier Wake County
Recently, the John Rex Endowment engaged ALBD to help create the Wake County Healthy Community Grants and provide technical assistance to municipalities. The goal of the grant program is to improve policies and implement changes to the built environment that increase children’s access to healthy foods and active living opportunitiesin Wake County municipalities. The grant program was informed by a 2013 assessment focused on the healthy eating and active living challenges and opportunities for Wake County children and families. Funding to selected municipalities, which will begin in August 2014, will emphasize the role of local governments in contributing to the good health of children.
New Home, New Beginning
ALBD was established 12 years ago as part of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. As of February 1, 2014, ALBD is now affiliated with Third Sector New England, a Boston-based 501(c)(3) that provides resources, best practices and field-building support to non-profit organizations and leaders across the country. ALBD is excited about remaining in Chapel Hill and continuing to help build a culture of active living and healthy eating in North Carolina and across the nation.