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Louisville, KY

Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge

The waters of the Ohio River provide beautiful scenery for Louisville residents. But community groups and health officials in underserved West Louisville see something else: An opportunity to connect residents to nature and better health.

The West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative—an initiative of Louisville’s Metro Parks and Recreation department—is following a multi-year plan to upgrade the area’s parks and increase access to underutilized natural spaces.

Louisville, KY

The initiative is needed in West Louisville, where high unemployment, poverty and other factors are creating a 16-year gap in life expectancy between the highest- and lowest-ranked neighborhoods in the city.

To help, the county’s school district is partnering with Louisville ECHO (Engaging Children Outdoors), a school-based program that teaches students about the local environment in classrooms, then takes them to visit local parks for more hands-on lessons.

The city’s initiative also calls for close to $10 million of improvements to three local parks, including new or upgraded water, hiking, biking and other outdoor facilities.

Bennett Knox of the Louisville Metro Parks department said the new parks will mean that “people don’t have to drive to a different part of town to experience what they should be able to experience in their own backyard.”

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