Newsroom | Healthy Communities Can’t Exist Without This Key Element

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When we think about healthy communities, we envision active lifestyles and good medical care. But healthy communities are impossible without this important element.

Healthy Communities Can’t Exist Without This Key Element


Supporting Healthy Communities LogoWhen we think about healthy communities, we envision active lifestyles and good medical care. One crucial factor that might not come immediately to mind: transportation.

Affordable and accessible transportation is necessary to create communities that thrive, according to Charles Dickson, deputy director of the Community Transportation Association of America. 

“The number one reason for missed doctor appointments in the United States is lack of or reliable transportation,” said Dickson, who was among several key speakers for the MAG Supporting Healthy Communities Conference in December. The event drew 150 attendees.

“Public transportation can improve overall public health by providing access to health care, nutritious food, education, and employment opportunities— especially for low-income populations or people with disabilities,” Dickson said. It also encourages patients to become more active.

With people living longer, local and national communities are slowly shifting the idea on what constitutes a healthy community. Along with transportation, safe and affordable housing, sustainable food systems, and walkable communities can improve communities.

“Health is determined not only by the circumstances in which people are born, but also by economics, social policies, and politics,” emphasized Suzanne Pfister, chief executive officer of Vitalyst Health Foundation, another key speaker. Pfister noted that community design influences health and well-being and leads to social and cultural cohesion. 

Homelessness is another issue impacting community health. One goal is to collaborate with community partners to avoid the cycle that leads homeless individuals, particularly those with mental illness, to be incarcerated. County housing and jail system representatives are working together to assist such individuals with job placement, health care, and life skills.

Mayor Barney SpeakingQueen Creek Mayor Gail Barney, who chairs the MAG Regional Council, encouraged attendees to cross-collaborate and lift each other’s work. “I challenge you to think of ways to work together to support one another and move us toward an even healthier regional future,” he said. 

To continue the dialogue through the lens of aging, Age Friendly Arizona is hosting “At the Intersection of Aging and Transportation” on March 27, 2019. In partnership with AARP Arizona, Federal Highway Administration, and Vitalyst Health Foundation, this event will continue to explore insights in aging, health, and transportation.

Register here.

Published January 28, 2019

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The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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