Louisville receives $180ok to extend equitable entry to outside recreation for kids and households 


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2022) – Louisville continues efforts to build a healthier city by breaking down barriers to nature in part through a $180,000 grant. That National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Association of State and Territory Health Officials (ASTHO) selected 14 community partnerships and coalitions across the country to receive funding to participate in the second year of the pilot initiative, Improving Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) – Getting Further Faster.

“This is another initiative that reflects all three of my administration’s core goals — to become a lifelong learning community, a healthier city, and an even more compassionate city,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Being outside helps our children and their families become healthier, and nature offers so many opportunities for lifelong learning. It also touches on our compassion goal by reflecting our community’s belief that we only succeed when everyone has the opportunity to grow, learn and play.”

Social determinants of health are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, work, play, worship and age, which affect a wide range of health and quality of life outcomes. According to that Centers for Disease Control (CDC), access to nature and green space have a plethora of positive effects on mental and physical health. However, an analysis by the trust for public land showed that neighborhoods populated with predominantly black people, including Black and Latino people, had 68% less parking space per person than predominantly white neighborhoods. That National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Recognizes that even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many cities in the United States had policies and practices for racially segregating parks and recreational facilities, leading in part to injustices today.

“We know that inequalities in accessing parks today were created by racial historical policies and practices,” said T. Gonzales, director of the Center for Health Equity in the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW). “We are excited to be part of a coalition that seeks to improve equitable access to nature.”

The grant will help improve an existing one Louisville Parks and Recreation effort that West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative (WLORI) and the associated program component Louisville Engages Kids Outdoors (Louisville ECHO). This initiative has provided thousands of low-income children and young adults with annual outdoor experiences such as tree planting, overnight camping and day trips to aquatic and terrestrial environments.

“Our pledge is to help Louisville Parks and Recreation continue to grow the program in the years to come with the design and construction of new outdoor park infrastructure, including those proposed Shawnee Outdoor Learning Centersaid Bennett Knox, CEO of Wilderness Louisville. “Through this grant, we and our coalition partners are demonstrating our commitment to ensuring the initiative is sustainable and that its focus is shifted towards improving the built environment, environmental quality, youth outdoor engagement and creating environmental employment opportunities through Needle on health equity in our community.”

“We are grateful for the partnership we have with Wilderness Louisville to provide outdoor educational opportunities to children in our community,” said Margaret Brosko, Acting Director of Louisville Parks and Recreation. “This funding will allow us to continue our mission of ensuring everyone has access to fun, healthy and safe experiences in nature, no matter what part of Louisville they live in.”

Coalition partners under this grant include:

  • Wilderness Louisville, Inc.
  • Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness – Center for Health Equity (CHE)
  • Louisville Parks and Recreation
  • University of Louisville – Department of Sociology
  • Residents’ Council of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative (WLORI).
  • Louisville Metro Office of Performance Improvement (OPI)

The second-year funded coalitions will participate in a range of evaluation, training and technical support activities aimed at informing the development of promising practices to improve health outcomes and health equity by engaging with the five SDOH domains for advancing faster: the built environment, community-clinical contexts, food insecurity, social connectedness, and tobacco-free policies. Funded communities are expected to participate in a more focused assessment that will build on the work of the previous year. The second-year assessment will delve deeper into topics including the cost and sustainability of the partnerships’ SDOH initiatives, the specific role that public health departments play in supporting the partnerships’ SDOH work, collaboration with clinical delivery systems, and the role that Partnerships play a role in helping build community resilience. The evidence generated by these efforts could help inform SDOH activity in communities across the country.

The CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion awarded funding for this pilot project through the Collaborative Agreement to Strengthen Public Health Systems and Services Through National Partnerships (CDC-RFA-OT18-1802). The goals of the cooperation agreement are to strengthen the country’s public health infrastructure; Ensuring a competent, up-to-date and connected public health system; and improve the delivery of the 10 essential public health services.

The link to the first year evaluation report is available on the CDC website here and here.

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Wilderness Louisville, Inc. is the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that raises funds in support of the Natural Area Division of the Louisville Parks and Recreation Department, located in the 15,000-acre Jefferson Memorial Forest (JMF). Wilderness Louisville’s mission is to be the champion for Louisville’s natural areas, from the nation’s largest municipal hardwood forest, the Jefferson Memorial Forest, to the woods in your backyard. Since its inception in 2013, WL has raised funds to support youth programs, land conservation and capital facility improvement, and ecological restoration activities. The Wilderness Louisville Board of Directors is committed to promoting equal access to nature and since 2015 has raised significant funds to maintain and expand the Louisville ECHO program and improve park infrastructure related to the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative. Learn more at www.wildernesslouisville.org. Facebook: www.facebook.com/wildernesslouisville/


Louisville Parks and Recreation, a state-approved parks and recreation agency, manages 120 parks and six parkways on more than 13,000 acres and operates recreation programs for residents of all ages and abilities. Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Greg Fischer has been committed to ensuring equity in parks and recreation, including launching the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative, the ECHO (Louisville’s Engaging Children Outdoors) program, and most recently becoming the third city in the country to initiate an equity review of all Metro-owned parks and facilities. https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/PTQhC68xGZuQpqp8H1HkGH?domain=bestparksever.com


The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) is a nationally accredited, independent, academic public health agency dedicated to promoting health equity and improving the health and well-being of all Louisville residents and visitors.


The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health authorities in the United States, the US Territories, and the District of Columbia and the more than 100,000 public health professionals who employ those authorities. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, formulate and influence sound public health policies and ensure excellence in state public health practice. ASTHO’s primary function is to track, evaluate and advise members on the impact and shaping of public or private health policies that may affect them, and to provide them with guidance and technical assistance to improve the health of the nation. For more information, please visit www.astho.org


The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote the health and well-being of all people in their communities. For more information on NACCHO, see www.nachcho.org.