Family playing on playground

Park Equity for Health Equity


Session Title: Park Equity for Health Equity
Day: Friday, Day Two
Time: 11:15 - 12:00pm
Author Name: Elizabeth Krause, ScM, St. David's Foundation

Elizabeth Krause is a senior program officer at St. David’s Foundation

As I compose this post, I am on a plane traveling back to Austin after participating on a funder panel at the 2018 National Recreation and Parks Association conference in Indianapolis. It was my first visit to Indy and it inspired me to reach out to a former intern (now a minted Yale grad, Fulbright Scholar, and health care consultant – I claim all the credit) who hails from the Circle City. After recommending a pizza restaurant in-town, she replied:

“I used to think of parks as a rich person’s charity, but the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to see investment in a city’s greenspace as essential to not only a community’s health, but a really important tool to build a community’s social capital.”

My NRPA experience underscored that she is correct on both fronts. Crown jewel parks are an attractive draw to foundations, corporations, and philanthropists. And may they continue to be. What would downtown Austin be without Zilker Park – a crossroads that draws residents from all walks of life and makes being active the fun and hip thing to do?

But only a fortunate few can consider Zilker Park their backyard. Park love must be distributed equitably. On St. David’s Foundation’s quest to help make Central Texas the healthiest community in the world, we recognize that the communities that harbor health inequities also have less access to exercise opportunities, less access to green space, less time, and fewer quality park amenities that support being active.

At the Healthier Texas Summit, the “Park Equity for Healthy Equity” session will elevate the emerging work of two of St. David’s Foundation’s Active Parks grantees.

The Trust for Public Land – the national folks who ranked Austin #42 out of the 100 largest US cities in their 2018 ParkScore – will share preliminary results from the Healthy Parks Plan for Travis, Bastrop, and Caldwell Counties. The early data and community engagement from the plan are opening up new partnerships where we are asking questions like:

  • How can a trail system support community physical activity and economic development in the barbecue capital of Texas?
  • How can we address the fact that the Austin council district with the highest number of children has the least amount of dedicated park land?
  • Can co-creating a new playground help a neighborhood with a large immigrant population heal after community incidents that harmed trust?

Keep Austin Beautiful will share how they are working with LBJ Early College High School student and staff leaders, as well as surrounding neighbors, to make the campus a safe and welcoming non-traditional park space after school hours in northeast Austin.

You need not be working on parks to gain insight and inspiration from the session. If you are interested in physical activity, the built environment, community engagement, or healthy equity, I invite you to join us. Being a user and lover of parks is icing.

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Location Info

AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center
1900 University Ave
Austin, TX 78705

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