The built environment of a rural community, which
includes the physical environment, infrastructure, housing, streets, and transportation systems, can influence
early childhood health promotion efforts.
Programs designed to target specific aspects of the built environment may help improve children's health and
have unique implementation considerations. Programs focused on improving housing quality may work to prevent lead poisoning in homes which can result in
serious health and developmental issues for children. Programs to prevent childhood lead exposure will need to
consider approaches that work best inside the home.
Programs focused on improving conditions to help children
get more physical activity, such as through walking and biking, will need to develop strategies for working with
community stakeholders to make changes. The National
Complete Streets Coalition provides information and considerations for rural communities to create
streets that are safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders. Several guides, including the
Small Town and Rural Design Guide and Rails to Trails Conservancy, assist with the planning and design
of walking and biking paths. The Parks Build
Community initiative demonstrates the value of parks to communities.
For more information about how the built environment can impact early childhood health and well-being in rural
communities, see Improving Neighborhoods and the Built
Environment in the Social Determinants of Health Toolkit. See the Rural Transportation Toolkit for
specific considerations relevant to programs working to improve transportation access and infrastructure.
Resources to Learn More
Environments for Active Living
Discusses the impact of a built environment that provides opportunities for physical activity outdoors. Offers
suggestions for communities to assess and improve their existing environment and support active living.
Author(s): Toliver, Z.
Organization(s): Rural Health Information Hub
Citation: Rural Monitor
Outlines considerations for planning and implementing changes to the built environment to increase opportunities
for physical activity.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)