Bike barometer (copy) (copy)

Bicyclists pass Madison's "bike barometer" along the Capital City Trail near the intersection of North Shore Drive and John Nolen Drive. Madison is one of five platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Communities, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Communities around the state will soon be able to apply for a Healthy Communities designation, based on action in a broad range of health categories.

State Journal archives

Neighborhoods, cities and counties around Wisconsin will be able to get bronze-, silver- or gold-level designations as healthy communities through a new program at UW-Madison.

The Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation, launched by the UW Population Health Institute, plans to gather letters of interest through the end of January, accept applications in the spring and announce its first designations in the summer.

Unlike programs that recognize cities for being fit or bicycle-friendly, or UW-Madison’s annual ranking of counties by health status, the new program will look at action being taken to improve conditions in four categories of health.

“The idea is to recognize local communities’ efforts to improve health, defined more broadly as across health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment,” said Ann McCall, communications and project manager for the population health institute’s Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health, or MATCH, group.

“It’s really meant to be a concrete way for communities to highlight and celebrate the work they’ve been doing,” McCall said.

Activities might include health improvement plans, mixed-use development plans, business wellness programs, health fairs, fun runs, expansions of sidewalks and bike paths, and incorporation of mental health programs at schools.

“It’s no single one thing,” said Paula Tran Inzeo, MATCH director. “What we’re looking for is little examples across all of (the categories) that show that communities understand it’s not just bike paths, it’s not just hospitals.”

Neighborhood associations, town boards, chambers of commerce, cities, counties and even groups of counties could apply, Tran Inzeo said.

Designees will work with each other to share successes and challenges, she said.

Applying is free. For more information, go to wihealthycommunities.org.