Online Program

Evaluation of a national award program building healthy communities for active aging

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kathy Sykes, MA, Office of Research and Development, Division, Environmental Public Health, NHEERL, U.S. EPA, Washington, DC
Objective: The purpose of the study was to review the progress and best practices of an award program Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging (BHCAA).

Methods: Between 2007- 2011, 21 communities received the BHCAA award. Communities were required to submit an application that described implementation of smart growth strategies and community-wide programming of physical activity. Award winners were invited to provide updates. Among those who submitted updates, a representative sample was selected to respond to a survey. The survey results would then provide the study three sets of data points: the award, update and survey results. Communities were surveyed on outcome measures and whether any additional improvements occurred after implementing programs and policies. They were asked which principles of smart growth their communities had adopted and implemented.

Results: Almost all the communities reported implementing most of the smart growth strategies: mixed land use; walkable neighborhoods; range of housing choices; etc. Outcome measures among communities varied considerably. Several communities cited levels of community involvement as their primary measure of success. Others reported using participant surveys, program attendance, and number of classes taught as outcome measures. All the communities noted the importance of measuring success to determine future needs as residents continue to age. Two award winners also reported their programs had been implemented in other communities.

Conclusion: Most communities responded that while the award primarily focused on improving the health and well-being of older adults and adopting principles of smart growth, the entire community benefited from design, policy and programming changes.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe how sprawl can affect human health and the health of the environment. Discuss how smart growth strategies can improve health of older residents and the environment. Describe a policy intervention that can make a difference for the mobility of older adults.

Keyword(s): Aging, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: For 30 years, Ms. Sykes has worked in health policy field at both state and federal levels. She served as Professional Staff for the US Senate Aging Committee and for Congressman Obey. Since 1998, she has been working for the U.S. EPA as Senior Advisor for Aging. In 2005, she led the effort to develop a community recognition award program for excellence in promoting public health through the built environment and active aging programming.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.