In 2013, Davidson Design for Life (DD4L) led a health impact assessment (HIA) in partnership with the Davidson Parks and Recreation Department, Kostelec Planning, and LandDesign to examine how parks, recreation, and public spaces can impact the seven dimensions of wellness (physical, emotional, environmental, occupational, intellectual, social, and spiritual). The HIA found that parks serve multiple purposes for individuals and communities, including providing a safe, accessible, and affordable place for physical activity and social gathering, and contributing to air, water, and soil quality. The HIA also found that public spaces not considered part of parks and recreation planning processes-streetscapes, public buildings and facilities, and vacant spaces between buildings-can offer services similar to parks and should be included in the planning process. The HIA made several recommendations including offering opportunities for community members of all ages and abilities to volunteer with the parks and recreation department; ensuring a broad range of community engagement opportunities within the master plan process; and establishing baseline metrics of how parks, recreational programs, and public spaces impact the seven dimensions of wellness within Davidson as well as tracking positive progress towards impacting wellness.
The initial HIA will be used to inform the overall planning process for the Parks, Recreation, and Public Spaces Plan and additional public engagement along the seven dimensions of health will take place during the planning process due in part to the HIA. The project team is hopeful that the HIA will either be incorporated throughout the plan or included as an appendix.