Health, Safety and Wellness – What does that look like in YOUR Community?

If money were no object, how would you increase health, safety and wellness in your community?

Have you ever thought about it?

Through a unique collaboration between the IU School of Medicine, Herron School of Art and Design, IU Health, HealthNet and other organizations, researchers have been asking that question of residents in the Avondale Meadows community over the past six months. It’s all in preparation for the grand opening of the one-of-a-kind Avondale Meadows Health & Wellness Center this summer. (Construction is coming along…check out the latest photos here!)

Despite well-known associations between where a person lives and his/her health, few patient-centered approaches have been used to develop and implement place-based health interventions. For the first time in the United States, Avondale Meadows, a Purpose Built Community in Indianapolis, has been incorporating health as part of its community development strategy. Traditionally when developing new communities or redeveloping existing ones, key stakeholders involved with the design and construction of the housing and the surrounding area rarely engage health providers, payers, or patients. 

The aims of the project were to (1) engage residents in and surrounding Avondale Meadows to understand perceptions of health, current health needs, and desired health-related amenities as they pertain to the Health & Wellness Center, and (2) partner with residents to develop and refine, with the input of existing stakeholders, a specific set of requests of amenities and services which would be most useful at this site.

The culmination “event” for the research study came as a part of Saturday’s United Northeast Development Corporation’s Community Day.

Herron art students creatively illustrated neighborhood-generated ideas, ranging from safe places for residents to walk, to starting urban gardens, to creating more activities for youth. Residents were invited to use “community cash” to vote and show support for their favorite neighborhood-generated ideas. They could also comment and add their own thoughts.

And comment they did. The colorful post-it notes placed all over the idea boards showed how much residents care for their community – and what great suggestions they have for making it a better place to live.  

At HealthNet, we have long recognized the connection between health and place. We understand that that maintaining good health is easier when people are surrounded by healthy choices in their schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.  We also recognize that building healthy surroundings for people is not something that can be led by one individual or organization alone. It is a collaborative effort that must involve the whole community. We encourage you to reach out to your community leaders to get involved in promoting healthy choices.  Show that you give a care! Let’s work together to make all Indy neighborhoods great places to live!  

What ideas do you have for improving health, safety and wellness in your community? Share your ideas below!


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