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Am J Prev Med. 2012 Nov;43(5 Suppl 4):S329-36. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.06.025.

Active living by design sustainability strategies.

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Active Living by Design, North Carolina Institute for Public Health, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.



Despite substantial increases in improving the translation of health promotion research into practice, community initiatives still struggle with maintaining changes once grant funding has ended. Researchers, funders, and community practitioners are interested in practices that maintain and sustain their efforts.


This qualitative study conducted a content analysis of evaluation findings from Active Living by Design (ALbD) to identify activities that community coalitions implemented to maintain their initiative and secure ongoing influence in communities.


Investigators analyzed data from interviews, focus groups, and the Progress Reporting System to identify sustainability approaches clustering into five areas: partnership expansion, sustainable funding, permanent advisory committees, policy change, and institution/organization change.


Partnership expansion occurred across sectors and disciplines and into broader geographic areas. Additional funding extended beyond grants to earned income streams and dedicated tax revenues. Permanent advisory committees were established to inform decision makers about a range of active living impacts. Policy changes in zoning and comprehensive plans ensured maintenance of health-promoting built environments. Sustainability through institution/organization changes led to allocation of dedicated staff and incorporation of active living values into agency missions.


Active Living by Design partnerships defined and messaged their projects to align with policymakers' interests and broad partnership audiences. They found innovative supporters and adapted their original vision to include quality of life, nonmotorized transport, and other complementary efforts that expanded their reach and influence. These sustainability strategies altered awareness within communities, changed community decision-making processes, and created policy changes that have the potential to maintain environments that promote physical activity for years to come.

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