Never leave the playground

Parkour is not just for young people: while 74-year old  Stephen Jepson doesn't necessarily identify with the Parkour movement, what he practices is oftentimes very similar to it. Through its Never Leave the Playground effort, Jepson promotes exercises that allow folks to develop better balance, dexterity, and fitness, while reducing their risk of catastrophic accidental falls and delaying the onset of neurological disorders. Watching videos of Jepson in action, it is not hard to notice how the environment in which he lives is highly conducive to his active lifestyle, as he takes advantage of bike pathways, walking trails, playground equipment, stairs, and other built environment features that support active living.

Parkour... anyone?

During a recent CHART meeting, one of our fabulous Parks and Recreation directors discussed the need to tune into young people's current interests and language in an effort to engage them more effectively. During the conversation she mentioned the growing Parkour phenomenon: Park...who??? Exactly my reaction when I first read the notes from that meeting!

And so off I went to start learning about this trendy sport that has been taking over social media channels frequented by teenagers and young adults. While first developed in France in the 1980's, deriving from military training courses, Parkour has been gaining popularity starting in the 1990's and 2000's. Parkour practitioners (a.k.a. traceurs) aim to get from A to B in the most efficient way possible. Parkour involves a strong reliance on the built environment and identifying the best ways for maintaining momentum and navigating around, across, through, over, and under its features by using the human body and movements such as running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling and more. While often taking place in urban settings, Parkour can also be practiced in nature and rural environments (follow the links to view traceurs in action!)

We are not quite sure about how prevalent Parkour is in our geographical area and are also not sure about how our communities are prepared (or not) to deal with the potentially growing numbers of traceurs. Here are some questions we are pondering:

  • How do we balance the need for protecting the safety of individuals and public spaces, while also promoting active living and preventing chronic diseases?
  • If Parkour is here to stay and more people become interested in it, how can we proactively jump on the bandwagon and support this movement, while also minimizing injuries?
  • How do we plan public spaces and the built environment to include opportunities for play for all ages and interests?
  • What kinds of active recreation programs can we offer for aspiring traceurs?

What are your thoughts? Email us at




Gil Penalosa: Citizens Can’t Be Spectators in Urban Planning – Next City

"People must get engaged in the process. 'Citizens can no longer be spectators, they must participate,' says Penalosa." How does your town engage its citizens when it comes to community planning and design? Is it working? Is it time to think outside the box to get more residents to buy into the process?

Read the full article here.

CTrides Week starts today!

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) invites Connecticut commuters to participate in a week-long challenge of trying alternative methods of travel for their daily commutes. For at least one day during CTrides Week, Monday, May 11 through Friday, May 15, 2015, commuters are asked to take advantage of various ride-sharing options instead of driving alone.  Commuters are also encouraged to visit and pledge their greener commute on the CTrides Week webpage.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy declared May 11 – 15, 2015 as CTrides Week with an official proclamation for the State of Connecticut. CTrides Week is an initiative to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in Connecticut. Solitary drivers can also save time and money by teleworking, taking a bus, train or by joining a carpool or vanpool. In addition, there are added health benefits for biking or walking instead of driving.


Governor Malloy shares his 30-year plans for the transportation infrastructure in Connecticut

The very reader-friendly version of the 30-year vision for Connecticut's transportation infrastructure includes investments to preserve and enhance pathways for non-motorists across the state, including an effort to connect regional trails and increase bikeability and walkability in our higher-density areas. We encourage you to learn more about it and follow related developments to ensure that our local towns continue to be represented in this plan, with a continued eye on active transportation and healthy built environments.

The CHART Coalition receives $100,000 to promote healthy living by design

Small and rural planning and zoning commissions often have limited capacity. In response, the Eastern Highlands Health District Community Health Action Response Team (C.H.A.R.T.) coalition will develop a toolkit aimed at assisting planning and zoning commissions with understanding how planning can impact long-term public health. The toolkit will also gather resources that can be used by local planning and zoning commission members to evaluate planning options and make decisions informed by their potential health impact. An important component of the funded project includes strategies aimed at increasing civic engagement and citizen influence over local planning and zoning decisions.

This effort is supported by a $100,000 grant form the American Planning Association through its Plan4Health program to combat two determinants of chronic disease - lack of physical activity and lack of access to nutritious foods. Plan4Health is a 15-month program that strengthens the connection between planning and public health. The program is implemented in partnership with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and represents a major new collaboration between planners and public health professionals. Funding for Plan4Health was provided through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This is an exciting new opportunity to improve the health of our communities through diverse partnerships,” said Anna Ricklin, AICP, manager of APA’s Planning and Community Health Center. “Collaboration is key if we want to continue to create communities of lasting value that are equitable and healthy for all residents.”
Eighteen coalitions were selected for the Plan4Health program after a competitive review process.

In addition to the Eastern Highlands Health District Community Health Action Response Team being selected, the following 17 coalitions also received funding:
1. Healthy Savannah, Inc.; Chatham County, Georgia
2. Health Transformers; Vista Neighborhood, Boise, Idaho
3. B-Well Bensenville Plan4Heath Coalition; Bensenville, Illinois
4. Kane County Planning Cooperative; Kane County, Illinois
5. Reach Healthy Communities; Columbus, Indiana
6. Health by Design; Indianapolis/Marion County, Indiana
7. Planning Healthy Iowa Communities; Linn County, Iowa
8. Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition; Kenton County, Kentucky
9. Inner Core Community Health Improvement Coalition; Metro Boston, Massachusetts
10. Healthy Eating, Active Living Partnership – Active Living Workgroup; St. Louis, Missouri
11. Plan4Health – Nashua, an initiative of the Greater Nashua Public Health Network; Nashua, New Hampshire
12. Trenton Healthy Communities Initiative; Trenton, New Jersey
13. Live Well Kingston; Kingston, New York
14. Columbus Public Health – Chronic Disease Prevention Advisory Board; Columbus, Ohio
15. Plan 4 Health Summit County; Summit County, Ohio
16. Austin-Vámonos Rundberg Coalition; Rundberg Neighborhood, Austin, Texas
17. Capital Region Healthy Communities, Dane County, Wisconsin

For more information about the Plan4Health program, visit or follow the hashtag #Plan4Health on Twitter.