Louisville, Kentucky

2014

Excerpt from Lessons for Leaders:

Youth became a critical part of healthy community advocacy efforts in Louisville. Youth from several neighborhoods used surveys, Photovoice and digital storytelling to advocate for change with metro council members and city officials. Working with the local YMCA, they launched Metro Youth Advocates (MYA). Youth contributed to the establishment of several Healthy in a Hurry corner stores in food desert neighborhoods, the hiring of a young person as a produce manager to support the stores and the confirmation of Louisville as host of the 2014 Southern Obesity Summit. Youth remain involved in their community after their participation in MYA.

For more information, read the full story.


November 2013

Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, is a mix of urban, suburban and rural areas along the Ohio River. When they applied for a Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) grant in 2008, a recent groundswell of activity around childhood obesity prevention had primed Louisville for real change on the issue. They’d already made significant efforts to develop a network of walking trails and bike paths, support urban gardening and provide children with safe routes to school.

Yet the city faced a number of interrelated social, economic and health challenges. Education rates were low. Not surprisingly, given the high prevalence of obesity among children and adults, its overall death rates for heart disease and stroke were higher than national averages.

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and a variety of partners associated with the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement collaborated to work with underserved neighborhoods in northwest Louisville and the city’s east downtown. These older neighborhoods historically experience limited access to fresh, healthy foods as well as safety and environmental problems that discourage physical activity.

However, together with residents and youth, the local Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) coalition advanced changes in the physical environment that support active living and healthy eating while expanding access to and distribution of healthy food.

Some of their key accomplishments include:

  • Nine walkability assessments of more than 87 miles of sidewalks resulted in new Mayor’s miles along with a sustainable procedure for residents to be involved in “walk shops” and to advocate for improvements to their pedestrian environments.
  • A 2013 amendment to the Land Development Code makes community gardens a permitted land use in the city.
  • Six new gardens and orchards provide opportunities for children to be active and grow fresh foods in the HKHC project areas.
  • A checklist for zoning community and market gardens, developed with the expertise of the Louisville Metro Department of Economic Growth and
    Innovation food policy advisor.
  • Partners completed the Mayor’s Mile in Portland around the Family Health
    Center building and connected to the Louisville Loop through Lannan Park.
  • New Loop way finding signage was installed and unveiled by the Mayor, Director of Metro Parks, Director of Health and Councilmen. The city initiated new Loop Bus services and outfitted a bus with a bike rack on the front and additional room for the bikes inside.
  • Six Healthy-in-a-Hurry Corner Stores outfitted with refrigeration and fresh produce (using funds leveraged from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work federal grant and with the help of the YMCA). An additional six Healthy-in-a-Hurry Corner Stores implemented promotional labeling on WIC-approved items.

Project director Marigny Bostock believes the HKHC grant will have a lasting impact on the community. “The experience and knowledge gained by HKHC prepares us in all our efforts to make this a healthier community for kids. Youth leaders have been active and stayed involved.  And community members report that the walk shops are increasing civic engagement. This has been a great boost to our efforts in Louisville.”