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Health connects! : Evaluation of the project Healthy Slotermeer

Gezondheid verbindt! : Evaluatie van het project Gezond Slotermeer


RIVM cooperated with residents of the District Slotermeer in the city of Amsterdam, to get insight into the degree to which they experience their neighbourhood as 'healthy'. The residents feel that the physical environment in Slotermeer supports their health. However, they report a lack of social cohesion. They consider social interaction across cultures as an important requirement for health, preventing loneliness and unhealthy life styles. Moreover, many residents feel unsafe in the public space.

Residents particularly appreciate the green infrastructure provided by the Sloterpark and the Sloterplas lake. They value the public transport services, as well as community meeting facilities. Residents are dissatisfied about garbage in the streets and poor quality housing. In addition, residents expressed a need for information about healthy diet, physical exercise, child rearing and safety. Poverty was a much discussed issue; a healthy life is expensive for many residents.

This study was performed by local residents who interviewed their peers in the community. This method enabled them to tap into their local networks, and to utilize their insider's knowledge about the community. Moreover, the study had value for the local interviewers. After the project, these residents rated their neighbourhood as healthier, due to an increased awareness of all aspects of the living environment.

By engaging in the project these residents met people outside their usual networks and they gathered more knowledge about health. Most importantly, discussing 'health' enabled them to create connections between people with different cultural backgrounds. Health is a nonpolitical topic that is important to everyone. Talking about health can therefore help bridge cultural differences.

The outcomes are useful as a complement to existing scientific insights and they can be bused to better tailor local policy to community needs. However, the composition of the interviewer group as well as the interviewee group is rather homogenous, which makes it difficult to determine how representative the outcomes are.

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