If your city’s healthy for kids…

…it’s healthy for just about everyone else, and communities in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have been conducting such audits for 25 years. The public health term for this is a health impact assessment (HIA), which measures the potential impacts of decisions on health (physical, emotional and mental), and identifies actions that can improve the results of those decisions”.

According to Neal Kaufman, MD, MPH*, an HIA on our schools would result in:

“Siting it where the parents of a preschooler can walk their child there to get physical activity and getting to know their neighborhood. If that school is the center of the neighborhood, the neighborhood cohesion will maintain that school’s function for much longer.”
“Having it small enough so students feel comfortable and understand the environment around them”.
“Providing more daylight/sunlight that actually helps stimulate childrens’ brain development.”

Thankfully organizations like New Schools Better Neighborhoods advocate these principles full time. As far as buildings in general, some health-oriented organizations have already taken the lead on, as profiled in this previous entry.

*Kaufman is also a professor of pediatrics and public health at the UCLA School of Medicine and co-director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, and commissioner for First 5 L.A.