Chair, Mike Summers, Planning Consultants Hawai`i
In the early 1900s, planning and public health professionals worked together to protect public health and prevent the spread of disease by developing zoning laws to influence the built environment. However, the disciplines followed different paths with public health focusing on a clinical model, and planning on policy development and physical form. These two fields are re-connecting now as many chronic diseases are associated with the built environment and the individual behaviors that cumulatively lead to negative health outcomes.
Attention and importance is being placed on the built environment and its significant impacts on creating healthy places and healthy people. Research is increasingly demonstrating links between specific community factors, such as the availability of parks, accessibility of healthy and affordable produce, the "walkability" of neighborhoods and the choices people make in their daily lives.
Healthy people require healthy environments – neighborhoods, schools, childcare centers, and workplaces. People need their environments to be structured in ways that help them access healthy foods and easily incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Creating healthy environments cannot be done in isolation by any one organization or field. It requires coordinated and comprehensive efforts by multiple organizations, leaders, fields and sectors.
Maui County NPAC’s Built Environment Task Force provides a response to that need.
Maui County NPAC's Built Environment Task Force is working on creating active living communities through the Maui Island Plan, which will guide growth to the year 2030. Community outreach/education about the built environment and its relationship to health are ongoing, via on-site presentations, workshops, and the airing of past presentations on Akaku: Maui Community Access television. In addition, members of our group have testified in support of the development of healthy communities (mixed use areas with safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians). We are working, also, on the creation of a checklist for future development that will result in a rating scale or "Stamp of Approval" for projects based on community design that encourages active living.
NPAC and its members successfully advocated for the passage of a Complete Streets resolution in April, 2012.
NPAC supports the Central Maui Pedestrian and Bicyclist Master Plan[PDF] to 2030 which envisions Central Maui becoming a world-class pedestrian and bicyclist community. Safe Routes to Schools Walk to School days and Walking School buses are also supported by NPAC.