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True stories

Read stories of local champions who are making a difference in their community using the Shaping Active Healthy Communities Toolkit - Workshop Guide.

Learn more

  • Download the Built Environment Toolkit For Change.
  • Download a sample workshop presentation.
  • Download the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Neighbourhood Active, Healthy Design Checklist.
  • Download Active Transportation, Health & Community Design – Factsheet.
  • Download Active Living, Children & Youth – Factsheet.
  • Download Health Equity & Community Design – Factsheet.
  • Download Healthy Community Design Research Projects.

Help Canadians live active, healthier lives.

Shaping active, healthy communities

There is no doubt about it: healthy choices like walking, biking, and eating right contribute to a healthy heart. There is a growing body of research showing that the physical layout of your community – including the location and types of buildings, parks, schools, roads, trails, and shopping outlets in your neighbourhood – plays an important role in promoting or discouraging healthy living.

That's why the Heart and Stroke Foundation wants to help Canadians transform their communities into places where healthy choices are the easiest, most accessible, and most desirable choices to make.

Images created by Urban Advantage

Accordingly, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has focused a significant portion of its advocacy, health promotion programming, and research efforts on supporting Canadians in creating communities that are built to make healthy choices the easy choices for all.

With high rates of chronic disease all across Canada, we have a lot of work to do. We hope you will join us by learning more about the important link between your health and your community; the Heart and Stroke Foundation's actions, plans, and tools in support of healthier communities; and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Your health, your community: The link

There is an important link between the factors that contribute to heart health – including a healthy diet and regular physical activity – and the design of your community. For example, the presence of safe, well-maintained sidewalks; neighbourhoods that include key destinations such as schools, grocery stores, churches, parks, and workplaces; and options for outdoor recreation all provide opportunities for Canadians to include physical activity as part of their daily routines.

Your community poll

Does your neighbourhood support an active lifestyle? Respond to the questions below, enter your postal code and click on the submit button to let us know how your community is doing.

Do you have access to well-lit trails and outdoor activities year round?  Yes    No
Can you safely reach destinations using a form of active transportation, such as walking, biking, and/or transit?  Yes    No
Does your community have benches, trees, and interesting architecture along active transportation routes?  Yes    No
Do you have reasonable access to healthy food options in your area?  Yes    No
Postal Code

The HSF: Actions, plans, and tools

Seizing opportunities to improve heart health through the physical design of your community might mean re-imagining its look, feel, and structure. It may mean asking what's possible rather than accepting what exists. By working with interested individuals, health officials, community planners, engineers, mayors and councils, developers, transport authorities, and others, we can affect how our communities take shape. We can impact whether healthy choices are the easy choices for all Canadians – regardless of age, health status, season, or geography.

Get involved, make a difference

With Canada's high rates of physical inactivity and chronic diseases, it's more important than ever to create and support active, healthy communities. Residents and community organizations play a vital role in making this happen. No matter if you are currently working to enhance your community's design or if you are just at the beginning stages of the learning curve, or whether you have a lot of time or very little – there are many ways you can contribute.

Become aware

Assess your neighbourhood using the "Neighbourhood Active, Healthy Design Checklist.

Take action

Put into action some of the key steps recommended in the Shaping Active, Healthy Communities Toolkit.
Write a letter about this issue in your local paper or community newsletters. Click here for an example.
Donate to your local Heart and Stroke Foundation to help us create heart-healthy communities.

Help us spread the word and build a movement

Forward this webpage through your networks via email, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Forward this webpage to your mayor or local councilor and encouraged them to subscribe to the Healthy Canada by Design CLASP blog at
Tell us your story! Have you used any of the tools and materials on this website? How have you used them to make a difference?

Last reviewed July 2013 | Last modified July 2013.