World Health Day: Healthy Cities, Healthy People

Bravo to the World Health Organization (WHO) for focusing global attention on the impact of urbanization on health. On April 7th the WHO recognized World Health Day 2010 with the "1000 Cities - 1000 Lives" campaign, calling on cities around the world to hold events that open up streets for activities promoting health and wellness.

Smart investment in the built environment is the foundation of a healthy community. The location of your parks, supermarket, and schools (among other things) directly affect the health of an individual. And as people gravitate toward urban areas across the globe, we see increased demand on infrastructure, housing, and services. Global urbanization magnifies the responsibility of planners, governments and communities to develop more livable, walkable and active environments.

Our Administration is working each day to bring federal agencies together to promote comprehensive investments in communities that enhance health and quality of life. The Sustainable Communities Partnership with Housing & Urban Development, Transportation and Environmental Protection is an interagency effort to support community plans that will reduce vehicle miles traveled; connect green, safe, and affordable housing options to transportation; and create inclusive and inspiring community spaces. We are aligning housing, education, safety and health and human service policies such that every child grows up in a rich and nurturing community.

World Health Day also speaks to the key role urban leaders can play in a cultural shift toward healthy living. The First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative is an example of such an effort here in the US. The WHO’s “1000 Cities Initiative” urges cities across the world to do the same. This weekend I plan a long bike ride with the kids in support of global health and wellness.

Are you ready? Let’s Move!

Adolfo Carrión, Jr. is the Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs

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