‘Shared Spaces and Health Equity: Lessons from a Pandemic’ from Smart Growth America Shares Examples Promoting Inclusion and Engagement

Activity-friendly streets, public spaces, and active transportation options became critical components of daily life during the COVID-19 crisis, providing avenues for physical activity, accessing essential needs and being outdoors safely.

But vulnerability during and the burden of the pandemic was not spread evenly across our communities. A field scan from Smart Growth America explores how decision-makers did (or did not) account for existing inequities in their emergency responses and identifies common barriers and lessons for the future. Some examples focus on older adults.

Another more local example in the field scan was about Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Taskforce. The Health Inequities Task Force was made responsible for analyzing racial and ethnic data on COVID-19 cases and consolidating best practices for COVID-19 inclusive responses and recovery efforts. Every week, the COVID-19 Equity and Recovery Team (CERT) met with the Health Inequities Task Force, along with Health and Human Services, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Office of Economic Development, and the Office of Equity to workshop “Health Equity Now” plan goals, strategies, and implementation priorities, which resulted in the creation of the city’s Health Equity Now Plan. The Plan outlines 18 recommendations for how the city should tackle structural inequities in Boston, of which the eighth is to Promote Active Living by “creat[ing]
conditions in communities of color to support active living in order to help prevent physical and mental illnesses.”

The full report from Smart Growth America is available here.