Prevention Institute is excited to announce that we’re one of 10 Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives projects that have been selected to analyze the impact of community determinants of health on life expectancy using local life expectancy data. The data will then be shared with and used by community organizations to address health disparities and ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity for a long and healthy life. The selected projects will serve as open and replicable case studies for other communities interested in using data from the United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Project (USALEEP) that maps life expectancy at the census-tract level.
Over the next year, PI will partner with the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles and seven community power-building organizations rooted in Los Angeles County communities of color. Our project has the potential to make a strong and scientifically validated case for how increased access to parks and green space can advance health equity.
Together, we’ll explore the impact of community infrastructure like parks and green spaces on life expectancy and health. In consultation with a Community Advisory Board (comprised of seven community-based organizations and a representative from LA County Department of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity), UCLA will develop a statistical model to predict the relative impact of access to parks and green spaces and other community determinants of health on life expectancy at the census-tract level—data that community organizations can use to advocate for increased investments in parks and green spaces to promote health, wellbeing, and safety. We will also develop a park equity advocacy toolkit to support community efforts to expand park access.
We look forward to sharing what we learn and develop over the coming year. To learn more about our project or the nine other projects selected for Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives, please visit: www.puttinglocaldatatowork.org
Learn more about our community partners:
- Community Coalition works to help transform the social and economic conditions in South LA that foster addiction, crime, violence, and poverty by building a community institution that involves thousands in creating, influencing, and changing public policy.
- Esperanza Community Housing is a social justice non-profit in South Central LA that achieves long-term, comprehensive community development. They develop and preserve affordable housing; elevate health equity and access to care; mobilize for environmental justice; create and protect local economic opportunities; expand engagement in arts and culture; and advocate for policies protecting human rights.
- Long Beach Forward works to create a healthy Long Beach with low-income communities of color by building community knowledge, leadership, and power. Its work is guided by the vision that race and income do not determine one's future in Long Beach—it's a community where everyone is safe, connected, and healthy.
- Los Angeles County Center for Health Equity is a County Health Agency Initiative led by the Department of Public Health. Its mission is to ensure that everyone in LA County has the resources and opportunities needed for optimal health and wellbeing throughout their lives. The Center strives to advance racial, social, economic, and environmental justice in partnership with committed county partners, local organizations, and community members.
- National Health Foundation works to improve the health of individuals and under-resourced communities by taking action on the social determinants of health. Its vision is that all people, regardless of who they are or where they live, can achieve their highest level of health.
- Pacoima Beautiful is a grassroots environmental justice organization that provides education, impacts local policy, and supports local arts and culture in order to promote a healthy and sustainable San Fernando Valley.
- Promesa Boyle Heights is a collective of residents, youth, schools, and community organizations united in lifting community voices and working together to transform conditions and improve opportunities for students and families.
- Social Justice Learning Institute is dedicated to improving the education, health, and wellbeing of youth and communities of color by empowering them to enact social change through research, training, and community mobilization.
Learn more about our project:
A recent countywide park needs assessment documented stark spatial, racial, and economic inequities in access to parks and green space in Los Angeles County. But disparities in the acreage and quality of green space in LA’s neighborhoods are not the only way that park inequities manifest. Inequities in access to information are part of the problem, too. Communities need community-friendly data that they can easily access and use when participating in local decision-making processes—such as census tract, neighborhood-level, City Council district, and County Supervisorial district data—to effectively advocate for their needs to elected officials.
The USALEEP data will enable us to quantify the relationship between health outcomes and access to parks and green space at the census tract-level using associative modeling, giving us the predictive power to quantify a type of “dose-response relationship” between park access and population health. Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives will enable community stakeholders to harness the data to organize, build power, and convince elected officials and other decision-makers to prioritize parks and green infrastructure improvements in their neighborhoods.
Though Los Angeles stands out for its size, complexity, and diversity, the conditions that underlie park inequities are not unique to Los Angeles. Communities across the nation face similar challenges. Our Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives project will create a model approach and toolkit that people across the nation can use to address inequities in life expectancy, health status, park access, and other conditions in their own communities.
The statistical model that UCLA will develop—to predict the incremental impact that parks have on life expectancy—will be able to be replicated elsewhere using the methodology we will share publicly along with local data.
Along with our research methodology, our power-building engagement model and advocacy toolkit—including mapping and communication tools—will be available for other communities that face park inequities to adopt and adapt.
This project is supported by Urban Institute through funds provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We thank them for their support and acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in this research are those of the author(s) alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Urban Institute or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.