Barriers to healthy eating and physical activity can be found in neighborhoods across Minnesota—from cities, to suburbs, to rural areas.
Though the specific issues can range from lack of grocery stores, to limited access to bikes and trails, to complex socio-economic factors, the result is the same: health disparities that need to be addressed.
Through funded projects, the Center for Prevention engages community members across the state to identify those barriers and work together to change them in ways that resonate with people who live in those neighborhoods.
Consider, for example, this study in neighborhood contrasts: North Minneapolis and Grand Marais.
North Minneapolis Greenway Project
This diverse urban neighborhood has high poverty rates, and community members have higher rates of obesity and related conditions such as hypertension and diabetes compared to the city as a whole. Relative to the rest of the city, few bike or walk on a regular basis. That's partly due to the fact that there are few destinations within walking distance. It's also because many people don’t have access to working bikes and physical activity is not the norm.
This Active Living for All project will engage community members in the planning of converting an existing street to a greenway to provide a safe, accessible route for bicyclists and pedestrians. The proposed route will travel more than 30 blocks on a north-south route, connecting parks, schools and other destinations. It will connect to trails at the northern and southern ends and provide a commuter route to northern suburbs and downtown Minneapolis. The very presence of the route will help normalize physical activity.
Highway 61 Revisited; Active Living Policy and Design in Cook County
This rural area includes Grand Marais and the Grand Portage Indian Reservation. It also has an active and growing retirement community and is home to many seasonal residents and visitors. It is bisected by Highway 61, a four-lane arterial road paralleling the shore of Lake Superior. The highway does not consistently accommodate pedestrians or bicyclists and is considered to be one of the greatest deterrents to people running errands on foot or bike in Grand Marais and Cook County.
This Active Living for All project works collaboratively to create environments in which it is safe and pleasant to be physically active in daily life for all community members through policy and community design changes in Cook County. The approach includes:
- Empowering community members to have a voice in the public conversation.
- Creating active living policies throughout the county.
- Undertaking a streetscape design process for a safer, accessible and more connected Highway 61 corridor through Grand Marais.
Every neighborhood throughout the state has the potential to improve the health of the people who live there. The Center for Prevention works to identify those places with the greatest health disparities and fund projects that address barriers to healthy living at the neighborhood level.