Skip to content

Make your community a healthy place


Our Health Program provided funding for the 2012 public television miniseries “Designing Healthy Communities,” hosted by Dr. Richard Jackson, a public health advocate who in recent years has focused on the man-made environment. The series highlights the ways the built environment – the spaces where we live, work and play – contributes to obesity, chronic illness, social isolation and other health problems.

This year, we reprise that effort with support for community-outreach activities designed around rebroadcasts by Public Broadcasting Service stations in five metropolitan areas. A grant to the National Educational Telecommunications Association supports outreach and engagement activities planned by:

Each station will engage viewers, community residents and local leaders in events and programs that address issues like transportation, access to healthy food, green spaces and reviving urban neighborhoods.

The goal is to build on increased awareness of the ways such issues influence health and support community residents already interested in changing the places where they live.

The Health Program works to reduce health disparities among children and adults by addressing conditions that lead to poor health outcomes.

A professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, Jackson is co-author of a companion book to the TV series. He speaks extensively on the opportunities presented by altering the built environment.

Activities Planned in Five Cities

The participating stations and their projects are:

Food deserts­

Twin Cities Public Television in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., is creating an animated video explaining food deserts and promoting the Twin Cities Mobile Market, a nonprofit grocery store on wheels that brings affordable, healthy food to underresourced neighborhoods. The video can be viewed on a mobile phone, the main Web-enabled device in many low-income homes.


Growth, transportation, green space and retrofitting communities for seniors

Georgia’s Public Broadcasting Atlanta station is focusing on transit and urban retrofitting. Building on the station’s “Living Beyond Expectations” series, about retrofitting communities to serve an aging population, the “Designing Healthy Communities” broadcast coincides with a local event called Art on the BeltLine. PBA hosts a walking tour Sept. 20 by the Atlanta BeltLine director of design that highlights the arts, parks and paths on the tour. An urban design expert then discusses the need to retrofit communities for public health.

Rebroadcasts of the miniseries are Sept. 21 and Sept. 28, beginning at 11 a.m.

A highlight from PBA’s “Living Beyond Expections” raises issues related to transit, walkability and access to community amenities.

PBA’s radio partner, WABE reports on transit issues including work to improve pedestrian safety.


KLRU in Austin, Texas, and the Austin chapter of the Urban Land Institute are co-producing a mayoral candidate debate on transportation as part of its Civic Summit town hall series. Transportation is a vital issue in this growing and increasingly gridlocked city. The debate was held in front of a live audience and broadcast on television, online and on National Public Radio partner station KUT. (See a recording of the debate.) Rebroadcasts will continue until election day.

The broadcast schedule for Designing Healthy Communities in the KLRU servce area.

Urban development/rebuilding

WYES in New Orleans is partnering with government and nonprofit organizations that are rebuilding the Ninth Ward post-Katrina to host a “Designing Healthy Communities” screening and discussion where participants identify best practices that might be applied locally and develop an action plan. (See flyer for Sept. 18 event.) The process includes an audit to assess access to medical care, wholesome food, parks and recreational opportunities in the area.

Designing Healthy Communities airs on WYES in New Orleans Sept. 20, 27, Oct. 4 and 11.

Environment, health and urban design

A participant in the Near Westside Initiative of Syracuse, N.Y., WCNY is hosting a walking tour and special TV segment for its “Cycle of Health” program on biking and health. WCNY staff will lead small group tours, pointing out green buildings, green spaces and recently built resources for physical activity and nutrition. Tours will conclude with a brief nutrition program. The tour is Sept. 27.

The “Cycle of Health” television segment will showcase a health center that provides nutrition education for low-income families. The center partners with Nojaim Brothers Supermarket, featured in the “Designing Healthy Communities” documentary, to offer a customer-reward program that encourages low-income residents to pursue a healthy lifestyle.


People interested in issues like walkable streets, access to healthy food and recreation and improving air quality may find additional resources via other Kresge partners.

Some organizations working in these areas include:

Housing and neighborhoods


Transit and land use

Learn more in a Q &A-style interview with Dr. Richard Jackson.

You can learn more about Health Program efforts via our grant highlights section. You may search by program, state and year.


Preview: Designing Healthy Communities Series with Dr. Richard Jackson 26 June 2012 from MPC on Vimeo.