UWA, Livingston receives ‘Healthy Places’ grant

Published 1:56 pm Monday, June 25, 2018

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Funds will drive action plan for community livability improvements

The University of West Alabama and the City of Livingston have added a new initiative to a long list of collaborations designed to improve the quality of life for city and campus residents. Together, UWA and Livingston have been selected by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a 2018 Healthy Places for Healthy People partner.

Healthy Places for Healthy People was established by the EPA, with support from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and U.S. Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to engage community leaders and health care partners to create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant downtowns and neighborhoods that can improve health, protect the environment, and support economic growth.

Through the program, UWA and Livingston will receive planning assistance centered around a two-day community workshop. At the event, a team of experts will join community members with federal and state agencies to develop an implementable action plan to focus on health as an economic driver and catalyst for downtown and neighborhood revitalization. The assistance is not a grant, and the program does not provide money directly to communities. The workshop will make the connections between health, place-based considerations, and community and economic development goals.

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“Being selected for ‘Healthy Places for Healthy People’ gives the University of West Alabama and the City of Livingston another valuable opportunity to collaborate with the focus of utilizing and improving the physical attributes of our community in a way that leads to many greater opportunities for healthy living,” said UWA President Ken Tucker. “Simply put, we want to make a positive difference for all those we serve on campus and in the community, so the University is committed to partnering for community, economic and workforce development success.”

Now in its second year, the program gives special consideration to communities that are economically distressed and/or underserved. Only six cities nationwide have been selected as partners, and Livingston, in its collaboration with UWA, is the only Alabama city included. Applicants were evaluated for their commitment to advancing health efforts that are linked to community livability and economic diversification.

The University assumed a lead role in the application, Dr. James Robinson, associate professor of physical education and athletic training, collaborating with UWA’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research. Robinson also serves as executive director of academic innovation and workforce readiness at UWA.

Robinson will help steer a leadership team comprising university representatives, civic leaders, and elected officials from throughout the at-large Livingston community.

“The City of Livingston has for many years enjoyed a supportive town and gown relationship, and we have seen so many benefits over the years joining forces to boost our community,” said Livingston Mayor Tom Tartt. “Having the movers and shakers of our community at the table with local government and city administration as well as the University, we can have a wide-angle view of our community’s needs, interests, abilities and resources and align those to benefit the greater good.”

The local project is currently in the assessment phase, which involves defining outcomes, identify issues and opportunities, and coordinating community-wide participation. The second phase, convening, includes a two-day workshop that will bring together community members with the facilitation team of consultants and federal and state partners to develop a set of goals and an action plan. In the next steps phase, the facilitation team will work with the steering committee to finalize the action plan for the community.

Workshop dates and other details will be announced as they are developed. For more information on the Healthy Places for Healthy People partnership for Livingston, contact Dr. James Robinson at jhrobinson@uwa.edu or 205-652-3441.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, June 16 issue of the Demopolis Times.)