About the Equitable Neighborhoods Initiative
The Equitable Neighborhoods Initiative equips communities to address the pandemic-related issues of today while building capacity to deal with the health and quality of life challenges of tomorrow. ENI connects neighborhoods to resources to improve health equity and the development of each community.
Twenty Alabama communities will partner with the Equitable Neighborhoods Initiative. ENI communities are dedicated to growing equity and improving health outcomes in their neighborhoods. ENI aims to help as many people as possible.
A Community-Building Approach to Health Equity
The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development leads ENI statewide. UACED takes a unique community-building approach to health equity. By working with everyone from youths to retirees, this initiative focuses on a community’s greatest strength—its people.
ENI is a community-focused, community-shaped initiative. Community members will mold ENI through local Advisory Groups and Youth Community Councils. Together, youth and adults will work to improve health outcomes for their town.
ENI communities will develop programming for their unique culture and community assets. But the basic structure of the program will be the same for each community. For example, each community will:
- Develop a local health equity plan
- Draft a health resource directory
- Build a “healing zone” (natural space to provide recreation and improve physical and mental health)
What are healing zones?
Healing zones will provide an outdoor space that supports physical, mental, emotional and social health. UACED has partnered with landscape architects and the UA Sculpture Program to create healing zones that are attractive, inviting, and accessible to all members of each community and that feature amenities such as walking paths, exercise stations, children’s play areas, bike racks, benches, picnic tables, and raised garden beds. To learn more about the art creation process, watch this video.
Lasting Impacts of ENI
Positive impacts of ENI will benefit communities beyond the program’s end date. The lasting impacts of ENI will include:
- Youth and community leaders prepared to deal with future health challenges
- Lasting infrastructure that promotes healthy living among community members
- An archive of health equity resources for ongoing community use