Last week we got the privilege to have guest speaker Marlon Williams, director of cross agency partnerships, NYC department of health and mental hygiene for health equity. He is also considered a professional bureaucrat for thirteen years. His job concerns how people live, where people live, and emotional to places. He started off his lecture with asking the class what were our favorite places in New York and why. As we went around the class saying our favorite places, I didn’t realize any similarities until he pointed them out. After we finished, he said there were eight mentions of parks which then concluded that these were all places that are interesting about its design, places to connect with people, and that they have to do with health. At the mention of health, Marlon went into describing how health is your overall well-being.

We then went into the dimensions of Public Health which are acute disorders, well-being, and chronic disease. In order to prevent these disorders and diseases we have to recognize the determinants of health which means the path to good health no longer leads to the doctors’ office. The healthcare industry is recognizing that societal and non-medical factors play a much larger role than once envisioned. There are the leading factors based information from the Centers for Diseases Control: Physical and social environment, lifestyle and health behaviors, medical care, and genetics. Afterwards we discussed what impacts health which are discrimination/minority stressors, food security, and access to healthy foods, stable income and job security, environmental quality, neighborhood conditions, quality affordable healthcare, educational opportunities, and housing.

So all these factors lead to that where you live matters and affects how long you are going to live. Public health and planning are all good to know, but to know where these institutions came from is even more informative. The origin story plays out that there was this man named John Snow that came up with the idea of making water fountains around the city and then a few months later people were getting sick with cholera. In order to find out how the cholera had spread Snow divided the surrounding areas that were around the water fountains where the cholera had started. He then found the responsible the water fountains responsible and found out it was because of the communal cup that was being used and that is how public health and planning was created.

The conclusion to all this and the message was to identify what is Healthy Design Principles which to create places that are livable for all people regardless of age, income, or physical ability, accessible and socially equitable community, healthy and affordable food choices, increased public safety, accessible and affordable opportunities for active living and transportation, green spaces and parks that are easy to walk to, affordable housing for different incomes and stages of life, and community resources that make the healthy choice the easy choice.


Question: Do you think all the Healthy Design Principles are possible in making into a reality in the near future?


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