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How does neighborhood revitalization improve public health?

Documenting health benefits of community revitalization at Sun Valley, Colorado

Challenge

In many environmental justice communities, Sun Valley, Colorado, residents suffer from a lack of greenspace, poor indoor and ambient air quality, poor quality housing, poor health, and high crime rates.

Recent efforts to sustainably transform underinvested communities have been met with some success. The Sun Valley Transformation Plan proposes a complete rebuild of the neighborhood with parks, walking paths, new energy efficient housing, community gardens, athletic fields, and playgrounds.

With its uniquely disadvantaged and vulnerable demographic profile and the comprehensiveness of the revitalization plans for the neighborhood, Sun Valley represents an unprecedented research opportunity to assess the benefits of community revitalization. 

Solution

Westat is supporting the pilot study, which will enroll up to 100 total adults to provide non-invasive saliva samples that will be analyzed for selected biomarkers of stress, physiological status, and chronic infection. 

Westat is

  • Enrolling adult participants
  • Producing and disseminating instructional materials
  • Distributing the necessary supplies for participants to self-collect saliva samples
  • Providing a helpline to assist participants with questions or problems
  • Providing a mobile app to remind participants about when to collect each sample
  • Distributing a self-administered questionnaire
  • Tracking samples to ensure sample quality and timely delivery of samples to lab for analysis

Results

This study aims to quantify the subclinical and clinical health benefits of the Sun Valley revitalization “experiment.” It seeks to translate this information into clear answers and guidance for decisionmakers and scientists seeking to

  • Design and develop health-focused revitalization programs and initiatives
  • Better understand how, and how much, neighborhood revitalization will improve public health

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