The Active Living by Design national program: community initiatives and lessons learned

Philip Bors, Mark Dessauer, Rich Bell, Risa Wilkerson, Joanne Lee, Sarah L Strunk
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2009, 37 (6): S313-21
Public health advocates have increasingly highlighted the importance of implementing comprehensive physical activity interventions that use an ecologic framework. Such a framework can broadly address physical activity barriers, such as the lack of opportunities, social support, policies, built environments, and community awareness. The Active Living by Design (ALbD) was a community grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which was established to help 25 communities create environments that support active living. Each funded site established a multidisciplinary community partnership and implemented the 5P strategies: preparation, promotions, programs, policy, and physical projects. The community partnerships worked within neighborhoods, schools, worksites, and other organizations to increase physical and social supports for physical activity. Ten community examples illustrate the 5Ps. Throughout the 5-year grant, the ALbD national program office provided community partnerships with group and individualized learning opportunities. Technical assistance and peer-to-peer learning was facilitated by ALbD project officers, who also coached each community partnership via site visits, regular phone calls, and electronic communications. The ALbD grant program provided valuable lessons for communities, technical assistance organizations, and funders. Community partnerships experienced success in a variety of settings and their collaborative approaches encouraged multiple organizations, including funders, to participate in improving conditions for active living. Strong local leadership was a key to success and community partnerships benefited considerably from peer-to-peer learning. The 5P model, while challenging to implement comprehensively, proved to be a useful model for community change.

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