The City of Mebane adopted a resolution during the October city council meeting that states the city and its staff will abide by Health in All Policies standards when making decisions that can have an effect on public health.
The American Public Health Association defines Health in All Policies as “a collaborative approach to improving the health of people by incorporating health considerations into decision making across sectors and policy areas.”
Marcy Green, representing both Impact Alamance and the Alamance Wellness Collaborative, presented the benefits of Health in All Policies to the council last Monday night. First, she explained the roles of Impact Alamance and the Alamance Wellness Collaborative in improving public health in Alamance County.
Impact Alamance focuses on making investments in the community that will create lasting change toward improving public health. Alamance Wellness Collaborative is a group composed of government professionals, health professionals, nonprofit leaders and anyone from Alamance County with a desire to create healthy places and spaces in two major ways.
“One way is through creating actual infrastructure – like greenways and new parks – and we advocate for those things and work with city government to create those things,” Green said. “The other way is by creating policy.”
The discussion last Monday night centered around policy. Green said the City of Mebane has done a great job already of emphasizing public health through infrastructure with its parks, trails, outdoor gathering and dining spots in its downtown, as well as by placing an importance on uplifting community voices.
“When these investments and policies were made by council, you were thinking of health and quality of life – quality of life is closely tied to our health, wellbeing and development,” Green said. “Economic stability, access to education, access to health care and a built environment are all social determinants of health…So, where you live, the built environment around you, policy, all of those things make up about 40 percent of your health.”
Adopting Health in All Policies is really just about city leaders asking themselves, during their decision-making process, “How will this impact the health of the city?” Green explained.
Green pointed out the benefits of adopting a Health in All Policies resolution, noting that it would make the city more attractive to local, state and federal funders, makes economic sense because a healthy population leads to more societal economic growth, enhances the city’s potential to identify health equity gaps by allowing decision makers to assess the health implications of policy as its being formed and, finally, it invests in current residents and businesses while also attracting new ones.
Health in All Policies looks different in every town and city, and there is no one specific way to enact the standards, Green said. Mebane’s Health in All Policies will undoubtedly be different from those of surrounding cities and towns which have adopted the same policy standards.
“The City of Burlington adopted Health in All Policies and they used this as a foundation to pass the tobacco-free parks and develop strategies to develop a safe network of sidewalks and transportation needs,” she said.
Green added that Mebane is already practicing a lot of standards outlined by Health in All Policies, such as tobacco-free policies in all its parks, but hoped the city would officially adopt the standards.
“As a community partner that works closely with Mebane staff on various health and wellness projects, I can see that Mebane’s already taking the Health in All Policies approach,” she said. “This is simply an ask for you to adopt the official resolution and to take a stance to declaring the importance of health and equity in your community.”
Councilmember Patty Philipps said, “I’d just like to thank you, Marcy, and thank Impact Alamance for the partnership we’ve had with [them] over the years. It has made a tremendous difference in the City of Mebane.”
Mebane City Manager Chris Rollins echoed Philipps’ sentiment, noting the many projects Impact Alamance has assisted the city with.
Rollins said the organization has helped the city fund the following projects: the Mebane Community Park playground and splash pad, the trails at Cates Farm Park, the ADA-compliant treehouse-style playground that’s currently being built, the Holt Street Park playground renovations and trail construction, the outdoor fitness equipment at the Mebane Arts and Community Center, and the greenway that’s about to get under construction.
“They have been a tremendous partner and we greatly appreciate what they’ve done to help through all these projects,” he said.