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Health Equity Zones

Health Equity Zones are geographic areas designed to achieve health equity by eliminating health disparities using place-based (where you live) strategies to promote healthy communities.

Healthy communities are places where people live, work, play, and learn. These are neighborhoods consisting of social and physical environments that support healthy choices and safe living.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Rhode Island Department of Health are collaborating with 10 Health Equity Zones (HEZs) throughout Rhode Island to support innovative approaches to prevent chronic diseases, improve birth outcomes, and improve the social and environmental conditions of neighborhoods across five counties statewide.

Each Health Equity Zone (HEZ) organization's work plan will be implemented over a three or four year period that began in 2015. All HEZs grantees conducted community needs assessments in year one. HEZ work plans, based on the needs identified and prioritized in year one, focus on the residents in neighborhoods that each Health Equity Zone serves. The HEZ work plans present ideas and approaches to invest in local communities and improve population health. Community engagement is a priority in reaching these public health goals.

Building and expanding local collaborative will help to create healthier equitable communities.

Health Equity Zones and Backbone agencies

Each Health Equity Zone project has project leads and project evaluators.

Bristol HEZ: Citywide; Backbone agency: Town of Bristol

The Bristol HEZ focuses on improving nutrition and access to healthy food, promoting physical activity, facilitating community public health events, adopting Complete Streets policies, facilitating health literacy classes and health screenings, and offering the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). Bristol is also working with community providers to implement interventions that will improve local healthcare systems. more Website

Newport HEZ: Citywide; Backbone agency: Women's Resource Center

The Newport HEZ focuses on mobilizing residents and resources of the Broadway and North End neighborhoods; improving transportation; increasing healthy food access; creating economic opportunity; securing open space, parks and, trails; embracing arts and culture; and developing physical and emotional health through two new neighborhood Wellness Hubs that will house evidence-based, lifestyle-change diabetes prevention and self-management programs.more Website

North Providence HEZ: Neighborhood; Backbone agency: North Providence School Department

The North Providence HEZ focuses on the Marieville Elementary School and Birchwood Middle School neighborhoods and the identified health needs of students and their families. Focus areas include: the environment, safe routes to school, recreational facilities, greener school yards, affordable fruits and vegetables, asthma, connecting residents to diabetes prevention and self-management programs, obesity, mental and behavioral health, tobacco use and exposure, substance abuse, and violence. more Website

Pawtucket and Central Falls HEZ: Citywide; Backbone agency: Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

The Pawtucket and Central Falls HEZ focuses on adolescent and behavioral health while supporting culturally competent health services. LISC engages residents around increasing access to healthy affordable food, connecting residents to diabetes prevention and self-management programs, adopting nutrition guidelines where food is sold, supporting healthy housing, empowering tenants, and increasing landlord accountability, building a community kitchen, improving transportation efficiency, creating linkages to job training, supporting small and micro businesses, establishing youth coalitions, and facilitating positive relationships across diverse neighborhood populations. Website

Providence HEZ: Citywide; Backbone agency: Healthy Communities Office

The Providence HEZ - Healthy Communities Office focuses on improving community health around the city’s recreation centers, improving nutrition, developing community gardens, offering the Providence Summer Food Service Program, developing healthy food policies for public facilities, increasing access to physical fitness programs for adults and youth in public places, conducting activities to increase health and safety in parks and rec centers, offering diabetes prevention and self-management programs, and improving environmental health by implementing green infrastructure projects.more Website

Providence HEZ: Olneyville Neighborhood; Backbone agency: ONE Neighborhood Builders

The Olneyville HEZ focuses on increasing and promoting physical activity, access to healthy affordable foods, farmers markets and community gardening, redevelopment of distressed and vacant properties, addressing public safety issues, improving public transportation, providing access to diabetes prevention and self-management programs, opportunities for resident financial stability, and community engagement through community pride events and initiatives in efforts to build a more collective and cohesive community. more Website

Providence HZ: Neighborhoods Southside, Elmwood, West End; Backbone agency: Providence Children and Youth Cabinet

The Providence HEZ focuses on increasing enrollment and implementation of the Incredible Years Parent Program (promoting young children’s social, emotional, and academic lives); creating solutions for greater resident engagement, community organization, and neighborhood ecosystem support; reducing violence; and improving distressed and vacant properties. more Website

Washington County HEZ: Countywide; Backbone agency: South County Health

The Washington County HEZ promotes programs related to childhood obesity and mental health. Programs include: 5-2-1-0, an evidence-based program, encouraging families to keep a healthy weight, Reach Out and Read, promoting reading aloud to children daily, and Youth Mental Health First Aid, for those interacting with adolescents. The HEZ also focuses on connecting residents to local farmers markets accepting SNAP and WIC benefits for access to healthy food. more Website

West Warwick HEZ: Citywide; Backbone agency: Thundermist Health Center

The West Warwick HEZ focuses on improving access to healthy, affordable, fresh food by sponsoring “pop-up” farmers markets, addressing high rates of substance use and overdose through Peer Recovery Services; promoting teen health workgroups; and working with trauma workgroups. The HEZ also uses information from ten Community Health Living Assessments (CHLI) based on 255 engaged residents who offered ideas related to healthy environment initiatives, planning for more citywide recreation programs, and solutions for improving public transportation. more Website

Woonsocket HEZ: Citywide; Backbone agency: Thundermist Health Center

The Woonsocket HEZ focuses on providing access to healthy, affordable, fresh food by creating six new food access points in Woonsocket including “pop-up” markets; addressing high rates of substance use and overdose through The Serenity Center (a free community drop-in center for adults in recovery), providing teen education and outreach at the Woonsocket school-based health center, addressing trauma awareness through Community Care Alliance training, and designing a pedestrian walking plan “Woonsocket Walks - A City on the Move. more Website