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Fort Wayne, Ind. creates a working model of a healthy community.

In 1988, the city of Fort Wayne, Ind. was approached by a group intent on adapting the "Healthy Cities" experiences of European and Canadian cities for use in six Indiana cities.

The Healthy City concept combines the efforts of government, business, the arts, sciences and, in fact, all segments of the community as well as the whole. It is a continuing process in which local people work together to increase control over and even improve the commodity's health. Employment, good housing, adequate education, efficient transportation, a clean environment, friendly people, and safe streets and parks all work together to create and foster Healthy Cities.

The group, the Institute of Action Research for Community Health (IARCH), based out of the University of Indiana, School of Nursing, received funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to embrace the Healthy Cities concept and bring about planned change to foster improvement in community life, services and resources. IARCH wants cities across the nation to be exposed to successful Healthy Cities models.

Fort Wayne's Project

Fort Wayne, a city of approximately 172,000 people (According to the 1980 Census) is located near the northeast boarder of Indiana, and was chosen as a site mostly because of the presence of community and public health leadership and because the city had population groups at risk to health problems. Some of these problems included: a high percentage of the population living below the poverty line; a high percentage of households headed by single females; a high death rate; and a high infant mortality rate. In 1988, Fort Wayne's rates in these categories were all above the state level rates.

Fort Wayne utilized the community-based, adaptable model, Citynet, developed by IARCH, to initiate their Healthy Cities project. After receiving a signed Memorandum of Understanding from the mayor and the city health officer stating that they would fully support the Healthy Cities concept and its programs, city committees were developed and included a broad base of community citizens. Once established, these committees defined their own problems based on available data and on the local situation.

Fort Wayne chose to use vision workshops involving the community in order to establish direction and goals. Asked how they would like to envision Fort Wayne in the year 2000, community participants identified areas concerned with preventative healthcare, the quality of the environment and constructive human relations. Some activities that were developed from the workshops include: Healthfairs that are held in the central city (in soup kitchens and hospitals) so that those most needy of services can easily attend; youth recreation activities; Community Oriented Police Stations (C.O.P.S.); and economic development activities through the newly formed Business Committee, to name a few.

Fort Wayne's Healthy Cities project, as all Healthy Cities projects should be, is a dynamic and ever-changing process that requires the continued dedication of the entire community, from Mayor, downward. If you would like to know more about Fort Wayne's Healthy City activities or structure or more about the adaptable model, CityNet, please contact Melinda Rider at IARCH, (317) 274-4575.

Healthy Cities


The Healthy Cities movement will be the focus of NLC's upcoming Local Government Professionals Conference, "Creating Healthy Cities: Getting the Most from Our Local Resources," September 14-18 in Little Rock, Ark. Leaders in the movement, such as IARCH's Director, Beverly Flynn and Canada's Trevor Hancock, will be presenting various Healthy Cities models and approaches. For more information about this conference, please call NLC's Training Hotline at (202) 626-3170.
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Author:Price, Erica
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Aug 23, 1993
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