Historically, the term health often referred to simply the presence or absence of disease. Today, it is commonly recognized that health encompasses not only physical components, but social, economic, and environmental ones as well. Urban communities often face higher health risks partially as a result of how our cities are built. Design shortcomings can lead to issues like greater exposure to toxins and pollutants as well as physical isolation which can create or exacerbate common health challenges such as obesity, chronic disease, depression, and other mental health issues.
The answer may lie in parks, not prescriptions. Well-designed parks, playgrounds, and public green spaces provide a free place for moderate physical activity, mindfulness, and play, access to healthy food and clean water, and offer opportunity for neighborhood interaction. However, green space in the urban core is limited and where present, is often perceived as unsafe due to a lack of people, activity, and connection with the neighborhood.
Northeast Ohio may be home to a Great Lake, a national park, and the Cleveland Metroparks, but urban access to outdoor spaces – especially in poor neighborhoods of color where chronic disease rates are higher – is limited. Why? What can and should be done to create or activate more green spaces so all have the opportunity to thrive?
Join us for the third forum in our For the Love of Cleveland: The Power of Place series, a free conversation in Public Square on how parks can help improve public health.