Connecting Health & Planning in South Carolina Communities

Rock Hill, SC (December 7, 2016) – Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC)’s Active Community Environments Chair, Allison Couick Love, was featured in “Connecting Health & Planning in South Carolina Communities.” This webinar, facilitated by Eat Smart Move More SC and the SC Health + Planning Advisory Committee, showed how health advocates partner with local planners to build healthier, more active communities. Ms. Love, York  County Government Transportation Planner, highlighted how healthy eating and active living advocates have partnered with planners to create healthier communities right here in York County. allison-couick-love-york-county-government

Ms. Love highlights that the best way to accomplish healthy community goals quickly is to collaborate and leverage resources. Join a network of various interest groups, and you will find that health organizations share some of the same interests as bicycle-pedestrian groups and farmers markets. In York County, ESMMYC took its three-year, $99,200 Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC Let’s Go! grant, and worked with its many stakeholders including local governments, healthcare providers, SC DHEC, individual citizens, Winthrop University, school districts, the YMCA, and others; they selected the City of York and the Town of Clover as target areas that would benefit most from grant support.

In the City of York, the Let’s Go grant enabled the ESMMYC Active Community Environments committee and Coalition Coach, Jessica Cody, to partner with city management and Recreation, Planning, and Economic Development Department staff to identify ways to increase citizen activity. York’s rich history reaches back to colonial America, and features well-preserved residences and architecturally-interesting buildings. Historic downtown is a crossroads of commerce, employment, recreation, and social activity. The ESMMYC Active Community Environments committee performed a “walkability assessment” of this area in partnership with the City of York and York County Planning staff. ESMMYC then offered Let’s Go grant funds to direct the city towards becoming a safer, more inviting location for pedestrians and bicyclists. It hired the Dodd Studio, LLC, of Fort Mill, to draft the York Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Study for the City of York. Upon completion of this study, City of York staff immediately began identifying and planning for additional grant and local funding to implement many of the study’s priority recommendations. We saw that, by working together, a small project can become a great, sustainable effort, including policy and environmental changes that will continue to improve communities’ health opportunities for years to come.

The Town of Clover used the Let’s Go grant to support bicycle and pedestrian initiatives already underway by the town’s Live Well Clover committee, a citizen-based group striving to grow a healthy and active Clover Community. Clover set up its first Bike Rodeo in 2014. mRyo1At that time, ESMMYC introduced Live Well Clover to the York County Bicycle Pedestrian Task Force, a local advocacy committee that supports York County becoming more bicycle and pedestrian friendly through education, advocacy and promotion of the health, economic, environmental and social benefits of bicycling and walking. The Bike-Ped Task Force shared its experience with previous bike rodeos and offered free helmets and fittings for children and adults. At the Bike Rodeo, Clover’s police department set up an obstacle course; participants became eligible for the Mayor’s Ride, a family-friendly event winding five miles through the Clover, escorted by Clover police. The Bike Rodeo became an annual event drawing nearly 50 people of all ages and skill levels. These half-day events are staffed and supported through partnerships between the Town of Clover, the York County Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force, ESMMYC, and the Clover School District’s Blue Eagle Academy.

Also in Clover, Let’s Go! funds were used to map, sign, and publicize new walking and running trails at New Centre Park. According to Allison Harvey, Clover Town Administrator, the grant funding for the trail markers, map, and signs helped to get that project launched. And the New Center Park natural-surface trails benefit Clover citizens who seek a safe, off-roadway location to walk or run, and the Clover School District which hosts cross-country running events. Clover’s economy also benefits from funds spent by runners and their families while they are in town for cross-country meets.

As the ESMMYC Active Community Environments subcommittee finalizes its action plan and budget for the 3rd and final year of the Let’s Go grant, funding and technical support will continue for the City of York and the Town of Clover.  These communities recognize the benefits of partnering with coalitions who share like goals.  Such partnerships can enable limited funding and staffing resources to be leveraged, maximizing the amount of good that can be accomplished for both the local government and the coalition.  As we have observed in York County, by working together, a small project can become a great, sustainable effort, driven by policy and environmental changes that will continue to improve communities’ health opportunities for years to come.

Webinar speakers included:

  • Lori Phillips, MPH, MCHES; Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity; SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
  • Shawn Putnam, AICP, CFM; City Planner; City of Camden
  • Allison Couick Love, AICP; Transportation Planner II; York County Government

Link to webinar:

Eat Smart Move More SC coordinates obesity prevention efforts across the state.

The SC Health + Planning Advisory Committee’s goal is to connect health and planning in SC. The committee has developed resources to support these efforts:

  • SC Health + Planning Toolkit – The Toolkit is a healthy eating and active living policy guide for planning and public health in South Carolina. The focus of the Toolkit is to incorporate health-related planning principles into county comprehensive planning, with the overall goal of providing a policy resource to understand, evaluate, and impact local planning policy in the state.
  • SC Health + Planning Webinar – The webinar presents an overview of the South Carolina Healthy Comprehensive Planning Project and highlights the healthy eating and active living policy topics covered within the SC Health + Planning Toolkit.
  • South Carolina Healthy Comprehensive Planning Project: Baseline Report – An analysis of county comprehensive plans in South Carolina was conducted as part of the project. This report provides a baseline measurement of healthy eating and active living principles in county comprehensive plans across the state.
  • Economic Impact Report – This report provides information on the Economic Impact of Walkable, Bikeable Communities in South Carolina.
  • SC and County Pedestrian Plans Inventory – This report highlights the key findings of DHEC’s Pedestrian Plan Survey for the state and for counties

Eat Smart Move More York County is a collaborative, community-based coalition comprised of members striving to reduce the number of overweight and obese residents in York County, SC.