Making Space for Community-Centered Health and Wellness
In Philadelphia, residents' life expectancy is a product of their zip code. That's what Dr. Bon Ku and Kr. Robert Pugulsi of Thomas Jefferson University's JeffDESIGN and Health Design Lab found while researching the health of Philadelphia's lower income communities, where life expectancy can swing as much as 20 years between neighborhoods.
CoLab Philadelphia is an initiative born out of this research that aims to bring health and wellness outside of traditional medical facilities and directly into the neighborhoods that need it most. The Community Design Collaborative convened the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Impact Services, Thomas Jefferson University's JeffDESIGN, KieranTimberlake, Ballinger and Cohere to convert an Airstream trailer into a mobile, multi-use platform that builds healthier communities through creative placemaking.
“Health services are not readily accessible in a number of communities,” said Georgeanna Foley, a member of the design staff and leader of KieranTimberlake's CoLab team. “We wanted to design a creative, mobile, wellness-centered space, but faced a number of questions: What is a mobile health service? What issues should it address? What is health at the community level?”
To answer these questions, we met with Kensington residents to discuss what makes a community healthy, what residents need to lead healthier lives, and what role they saw CoLab Philadelphia playing in their neighborhood, as well as how designers, policy makers, non-profits, and healthcare providers can work together to bring wellness into different neighborhoods.