Episode 5: Building Trust and Rebuilding a Community in Louisville

(peaceful piano music) Welcome back to Healthy Communities News, where we spotlight places making strides to improve health and wellbeing. I’m Hillary Russo. (upbeat music) Today, we’re visiting Louisville, Kentucky. Or is it Louis-ville? Hmm. Louisville, not Louis-vull. It’s Louis-vull. You
got to get that vull. I say Louis-vull. But
when I talk about my home, I say West Louisville. Yeah, it’s Louis-vull. Has somebody else told you something different today? The debate over how to
pronounce the cities name shows just how fiercly
protective Louisville residents are of their hometown. The shadow of segregation,
and a lack of investment in recent decades have contributed to a loss of trust among the residents. But, like one of its
favorite sons, Muhammad Ali, Louisville is fighting back. Long time residents are leading that fight with grassroots efforts,
like the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative. Bennett: We’re in Shawnee Park right now which was a whites-only park. The Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center. Hillary: Bennett Knocks
is an administrator with the Louisville Parks Department. Bennett: Our project,
about creating equal access to nature, is
all about dealing with the barriers that exist. We’re introducing fishing, canoeing,
hiking, camping, biking, the pump track. Ultimately the goal is to serve more kids, more families. From a trust perspective, we have to do a much better job engaging
with the community. They kept the park active. Trust is a huge issue. Hillary: Linda Lewis is
a community volunteer. Linda: And this is
true in so many different things that are happening
with Black Americans. You want to trust, but
so many things come back. It’s not truth. And it’s
always to the advantage of what somebody else wants. Maybe not so much for the community. This is still a draft report, we wanted you to see it first. Bennett: It’s about empowering
a group of folks who live in a neighborhood
so they can help guide us and really be part of the
decision making process. We’re trying to build this group to be a voice for exactly that. Hillary: Helping the
kids of West Louisville experience nature is one key goal of the Recreational Initiative.
Since many families don’t have easy access
to parks or forests, they bring nature to the
children with a project called Echo, engaging
children in the outdoors. Lisa Brents, a school
councilor, told us all about it. Lisa: Echo understands that every
child deserves the same thing. We want to make sure that our children also get to engage in nature. We wrote out the Echo Mobile so that we could take nature play on the road. There’s a lot of learning
components that the kids don’t even see that they’re getting because they’re getting it
in such a wonderful way. You can do like that, I bet you can. Try. Hillary: The program recently hired a new Community Outreach
Specialist, JoCarry Batey, who’s position is funded by a grant from the Aetna Foundation. JoCarry: This morning we visited a local daycare. How are y’all today? Set up a couple stations,
like fort building. We have a nature kitchen, jump ropes, hoola-hoops. They can simply come out, play with us, it gives them time to let off steam. Hillary: Workers at the
daycare, like Lanita Gant, see a difference after
the Echo Van visits. Lanita: The introduction to
nature, for the kids, just changes the behavior.
It gives them the opportunity to play with
things that they can actually play with once they get home. Look at that. Bennett: We’ll be able to show
how the kids that are participating in this program, how their health outcomes, how
their education outcomes, compare to kids who are not
participating in the program. Hillary: The Center for Health
Equity, part of the Public Health Department,
collects this data. T. Gonzales, the
center’s intern director, told us how the data drives programming. T. Gonzales: We have to look at what are
called root causes of health, things like education, our
income and wealth levels, transportation, and your environment. Our partnership with Echo
is one way of creating healthy life and
activities, and recreation habits across the whole lifespan. And, it’s one aspect of being able to create healthy communities. Hillary: And creating healthier communities is what we’re all about. Healthy Communities News is on the road, uncovering more stories about local people working together to make the places where they live and play healthier. We hope you’ll come back
again to hear all about it.

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