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Maryvale on the Move

Jun 10th, 2010

Preventing Childhood Obesity

With funding from the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Program of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, Maryvale on the Move (MTM) serves as a pilot endeavor for policies and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity. Maryvale has more than 190,000 residents—36 percent of whom are less than 18 years of age—and the challenges to their active living and healthy eating are a microcosm of Phoenix’s concerns. The community’s 37 square miles for example, include only a few parks with limited safe access for children traveling on foot or by bicycle. The 13 playgrounds are typically small and hours for public pools recently were cut to save money. Through a broad partnership facilitated by St. Luke’s Health Initiative, MTM developed and implemented initiatives to increase Maryvale residents’ access to healthy foods and physical activity.

Planning Processes

In planning and prioritizing initiatives for this four-year program, faculty, staff, and students from the Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family and the Herberger Institute School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture worked with MTM’s strategic community partners in a dynamic assessment and planning process. The students first gathered local planning and land use documents and sources targeting Maryvale. They also identified programs and initiatives that focused on built environment strategies for enhancing active living and healthy eating, in metro Phoenix, other cities in Arizona, and other communities outside the state. With this background research in mind, they undertook windshield surveys and walking audits with community members in three areas of Maryvale, as designated by Amigo Center, Golden Gate Community Center and Rehobeth CDC.

Implementing Design Charrettes

This planning material provided a foundation for the design and planning charrettes. Three charrettes were held February 27, March 6 and 27, 2010. Between thirty and ninety youth and adults from the community, city departments and other interested organizations participated in these 5-hour sessions. A core group of volunteer bilingual planners and architects assisted in all charrettes. Small groups sat around tables that held large-scale maps detailing a one-square mile section of different areas of Maryvale. A facilitator displayed a series of slides depicting how small sections of a community—a block, an intersection, a parkway—could incorporate incremental physical changes to enhance healthier places. After discussing and identifying major concerns and assets of their community, these groups used various icons, representing different physical and social elements (e.g. bicycle lane, farmers’ market, crossing guard), to envision ways to strengthen active living and healthy food availability among children in the area. These charrettes had an intensive, collaborative, playful and highly visible nature, focused on feasible solutions and shared vision.

Designing Proposals

Using these materials and ideas, and stimulated by residents’ enthusiasm for their community, the ASU landscape architecture students developed several design proposals. While these proposals focused on specific sites in Maryvale, the strategies and ideas are applicable to other areas of Maryvale and metro Phoenix. A final presentation of the students’ work was held on April 27 at Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory (PURL) on the ASU Downtown Campus, with a large number of community members from Maryvale attending.

The background research, community-focused research, ideas and concern expressed at the design/planning charrettes, and the design proposals were compiled in the report entitled Maryvale on the Move: Planning and Charrette Documents to the MTM Leadership Team. More information about the four-year Maryvale on the Move project is available on RWJF’s Healthy Kids Healthy Communities website.

Report Chapters

Part 1 – Introduction and Background Research
Part 2 – Community Research and Planning
Part 3a – Student Design Proposals
Part 3b – Student Design Proposals – cont.
Part 3c – Student Design Proposals – cont.
Part 3d – Student Design Proposals – cont.
Part 3e – Student Design Proposals – cont.
Photographs from Students’ Final Presentations