The places where we live, learn, work, and play — our cities and towns, our schools, our homes, our neighborhoods — have an enormous impact on our health. And how we shape those places, through public policy and the support for healthy environments, has the potential to make real, lasting impacts on our surroundings and our everyday quality of life.
Through Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing partnerships with community organizations, municipal leaders, and public health champions, we are working to incorporate health, equity, and sustainability considerations into public policy and the built environment in ways that influence how neighborhoods take shape and grow.
CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, provides municipal leaders with a package of evidence-based policy solutions that will help millions of people live longer, better lives in vibrant, prosperous communities. The initiative assesses how the nation’s 40 largest cities rate in 9 policy areas that influence health and quality of life:
Using a combination of legal analysis and input from national health experts, CityHealth determines the “gold standard” for each policy and then assesses cities, awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals to large cities that are making the greatest strides.
Cities play a central role in creating neighborhoods and workplaces that promote health. City land-use decisions around planning, zoning, and infrastructure investments directly impact the extent to which people experience opportunities for physical activity, such as walking and biking, recreation in open spaces, and access to healthy food.
Kaiser Permanente is a founding partner of the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Cities Campaign, which supports small- and medium-sized cities in their efforts to improve the physical environment and give residents more opportunities to be physically active and eat healthy foods. The campaign builds awareness among city officials about the role of policy to promote health and provides them with practical support for adopting and implementing local policies that make it easier for residents to engage in healthy behaviors.
Established in 2008 in California as a result of a partnership between the League of California Cities and the Public Health Advocates (formerly California Center for Public Health Advocacy), the campaign model has been disseminated to several other Kaiser Permanente communities, including Colorado, Oregon, and the Washington, D.C. metro area. Each regional HEAL Cities Campaign is a partnership between the state municipal league and a public health organization.
Kaiser Permanente has long recognized the connection between health and place. We understand that maintaining good health is easier when people are surrounded by healthy options 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.
Our Community Health Initiatives represent a community-based approach to wellness that seeks to make changes at multiple levels in order to bring about improved health outcomes:
Through strategic grantmaking efforts, community partnerships, and the mobilization of a diverse array of stakeholders, Kaiser Permanente initiates and supports HEAL efforts across the country to help communities realize their vision for change.
This work has offered up some valuable lessons for how best to create lasting change in communities.