What is Shape Bham?
What are social determinants of health?
The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. To learn more click here.
Health is a central component of quality of life, and city planners and policy makers, consciously or not, make many decisions that significantly impact the social and economic health of communities, and these decisions trickle down to impact the health of local residents. Shape Bham was formed with the purpose to take this reality into strong consideration, and to establish a uniform measuring tool or “report card” for assessing health and quality of life, as it relates to the impact of the built environment on the residents of Birmingham. This will be accomplished by looking at health from a broad perspective considering social, economic, and environmental influences and by bringing community members, business interests and other stakeholders together to help build consensus. We also will develop and use the Healthy Community Assessment Tool (HCAT) to (1) assess the state of Birmingham neighborhoods, (2) track the progress in these neighborhood as the city implements its Comprehensive Plan and complete its Framework Plans, and (3) respond proactively and constructively with recommendations throughout the framework planning process. The information garnered from this endeavor will be used to define health concerns in the context of other important factors to assist the City when faced with policy, budget or zoning questions. These efforts will allow us to consider whether certain impacts may affect vulnerable groups of people in different ways.
Shape BHAM is an initiative that brings academic trained researchers and city planners, alike, to translate research into practice, and to integrate health and equity into the Birmingham City planning process. Shape BHAM is supported by a nationally and highly regarded policy organization, PEW Charitable Trusts, based in D.C., and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Schools of Public Health and Sociology, and the Edge Chaos.
As part of this endeavor we will pilot 20 neighborhood health report cards to for 20 of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods, with the intention of eventually replicating the report cards for the remaining 79 neighborhoods, pending available funding at later date. The 20 neighborhoods were randomly selected (click here to learn more about the selection process). To help us achieve this we have engaged the community in the planning process. We strongly believe that local residents are the real experts of their communities. We simply want to serve as a conduit to channel the issues that matter the most to them into a tool that can be used to shape relevant policy. Residents and stakeholders virtually identified the same issues that are the most impactful on local quality of health and life: blight, crime and safety, education, transportation, and sanitation. All of these domains directly or indirectly impact environmental health. To read more about the findings from the August 2016 public engagement click here.
The partners of Shape BHAM are excited to continue this rigorous endeavor, and we are excited and honored to place a useable and practical policy tool in the hands of the true experts: the residents of Birmingham!
The study area of the Shape Bham project encompasses the city limits of Birmingham, AL, more specifically the 99 neighborhoods of Birmingham. However, during the pilot phase of the project (February 2017 – November 2017), the project team will evaluate the quality of life for 20 of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods. Upon completion of the pilot phase and pending availability of funds, the project scope will expand to include the remaining 79 neighborhoods of Birmingham. To learn more about how the initial 20 neighborhoods were selected click here.
Why Shape Bham Matters?
The word “health” provokes a range of responses and images. Often, people think of incidence of diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, etc. However, people less often think about the influences of the physical, social, and economic environment on health and quality of life. These social determinants of health can determine if a person has access to, or more exposure to, services and infrastructure that are essential to preventing and treating chronic or acute ailments. City planners, who play a significant role in shaping the built environment, are increasingly recognizing the importance of integrating health into community planning and investment. Shape Bham not only recognizes the importance of this role, but also has taken the initiative to implement health as a standard in the city planning process. Yet, Shape Bham’s approach focuses on the power and voice of community residents. We are putting the planning process in the hands of the everyday citizens, because their voices matter, and they have an important stake and interest in ensuring that the health and quality of life of every neighborhood in the city improve. We have adopted the HCAT, which serves as a national standard of neighborhood indicators, to determine baseline conditions, prioritize investments, and evaluate progress toward shared community health goals.
Still want to know more? Click here.