Macomb Healthy Parks Collaborative Aims to Improve Health of All Residents

The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development and Macomb County Health Department are teaming up to focus on community health and wellness through this new initiative.

Are you getting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended amount of physical activity each week? If not, it’s time to start moving. After all, exercise boasts big benefits to both physical and mental health.

For residents of Macomb County, there are a number of ways to remain active thanks to the many parks, trails and waterways located throughout the county. But that isn’t the case for everyone — and it’s time for a change.

To help Macomb County residents achieve greater health and wellness, the Macomb County Health Department and the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development have teamed up to launch the Healthy Parks Collaborative.

“Healthy Parks program brings together the integral parts of both county and local community agencies,” says Gerard Santoro, the Program Director for Macomb County Parks and Natural Resources. “Together, we look to more effectively tackle the physical and psychological health needs of residents and the users of parks, trails, rivers, lakes and natural resources throughout our region.”

Read on to learn more about this initiative and why residents’ opinions truly matter.

Improving overall health

The improvement of the health and wellness of residents in Macomb County has always been top of mind for the Macomb County Health Department, says Whitney Litzner, the health planning manager for the Macomb County Health Department. In fact, the Health Department is currently conducting its second Community Health Assessment to gain more insight on residents’ needs; the first resulted in the county’s Move More Macomb initiative, which boasts ways to get moving, insight on its importance and more.

“In our first assessment that we did, one of our priority areas was chronic disease and healthy lifestyles. Our residents said that the first time that they wanted more places to recreate, they wanted to be more active, they didn’t know where to go,” Litzner notes. “And then when we looked at the qualitative data, we have high rates of obesity and various chronic diseases in Macomb County, so we wanted to focus on chronic disease and health lifestyle and put more focus on physical activity.”

That’s when Move More Macomb was born. This year’s health assessment is another opportunity for the Health Department to get in touch with residents and find out more about what they want.

“We obviously want to hear from our residents. When the community health survey is ready to go out, we want them to take it,” Litzner says.

It’s important for residents to share their thoughts, opinions, needs and wants, so the county can make informed decisions.

The Health Department has set a goal of getting 8,000 residents’ opinions during this health assessment. Macomb County residents can expect to see a survey from Healthy Macomb in late summer or early fall. For the most up-to-date information, visit

This assessment will further assist the Healthy Parks Collaboration to identify the recreation assets residents are using.

And that is key.

“This collaboration provides a foundation for greater connectivity between Macomb County Planning and Health Department to have meaningful impacts on reducing chronic diseases that have been increasing in our communities,” Santoro says. We look forward to engaging local parks directors and urban planners to design programs and places to better meet the needs of Macomb County residents.”

For more information on Macomb County, visit the Make Macomb Your Home website.


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