November 9, 2017

Partners for a Healthier Community
Kathleen Szegda

Partners for a Healthier Community Receives $250,000 Research Grant
to Study Complete Streets in Springfield


Partners for a Healthier Community, the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts , has received one of only nine national  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Policies for  Action Grant s  for $250,000 to study Springfield's Complete Streets policy.

"Complete Streets" refer to policies that support roadways that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users by prioritizing pedestrian, bike, and public transportation. Springfield's City Council passed a resolution adopting the Complete Streets Plan and Implementation Guide on October 5th, 2015.

PHC and Tufts University, led by principal investigators   Kathleen Szegda, PhD, MPH, MS ,  and  Erin Hennessy, PhD, MPH , will investigate whether “Complete Streets” policies lead to changes in the built environment, the economic environment, the social environment, and health/health behaviors. 

"This is one of the first studies to holistically examine the overall impact of complete streets on the health and well-being of a community through an equity lens," noted Dr. Szegda, the Director of Research and Evaluation for Partners for a Healthier Community.

This project will be advised by public health planning and transportation consultant Mark Fenton and will be implemented in collaboration with City of Springfield Department Public Works and Department of Planning and Economic Development.

According to Scott Hanson, Principal Planner, Springfield Office of Planning and Development, "We congratulate Partners for a Healthier Community on their grant award! This award will strengthen our already strong alliance with this organization and will allow us to further study the effects of how complete streets initiatives improve the built environment and health of our City’s residents.

This research project builds on the efforts of the LiveWell Springfield Coalition which has been working on the built environment policies, systems, and programs since 2007. LiveWell Springfield, convened by Partners for a Healthier Community and the  Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, developed and presented the Complete Street Plan and Implementation Guide for the City of Springfield. Since the adoption of the plan, the coalition has worked on education, advocacy, and supporting implementation of the  Complete Street policy.   

This  research  is a quasi-experimental, mixed-methods participatory research project using an equity lens. It will holistically examine effects of adoption and implementation of a Complete Streets policy on Springfield, a mid-sized city experiencing numerous health inequities.

The research team will partner with the LiveWell Springfield's Transforming Community Initiative, funded by Mercy Medical and Trinity Health Systems and will engage community residents in data collection (such as bike/pedestrian counts) and interpretation efforts.

Partners for a Healthier Community, the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, provides skills, expertise and experience to create successful public health campaigns and sustainable system changes to improve health and well-being in Western MA. Through partnerships, we build on community assets and increase community capacity to positively impact social determinants of health. As a Public Health Institute, we provide “backbone” infrastructure support, including convening of multi-sector partnerships, design and implementation of health programs targeted to entire populations, and research and evaluation services.

 Partners for a Healthier Community, Inc.
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