In the United States a person’s zip code is often the most significant determinant for life expectancy, due in part to policies such as redlining that purposefully segregated and denied services to residents of specific, often racially associated, neighborhoods or communities.
Project HEAL, a community health initiative created by Kentucky-based “cultural innovators” IDEAS xLab, is testing arts and creative expression as solutions to address these systemic health disparities.
There are already promising signs that creativity is helping residents transform their communities and develop solutions to their community health needs:
- Hero+Shero Journeys Project is using artist-developed curriculum and projects to teach students about civic engagement and policy change.
- One Poem At A Time, a project designed to help people envision a community without predatory advertising, has replaced over 20 billboards since April 2017.
Signs of Success
The potential impact of these projects is outlined in a Health Impact Assessment*, which looks at how Project HEAL may help to decrease social isolation, improve social cohesion, positively impact health equity, and improve social emotional skills in youth, among other determinants.
Dig into more examples of how Project HEAL is using connection, social justice, and the arts to ensure that communities are caring for and celebrating one another. And learn more about how these ideas can be replicated in your community.
* The Health Impact Assessment report is authored by the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness, IDEAS xLab, and the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, with additional support from the Health Impact Project - a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, with funding from the Kresge Foundation.
(Banner image by Tyrone Turner, courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; All other photos are courtesy of Project HEAL).