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Lisa Terry: Rutherford County, TN

CEO, Primary Care and Hope Clinic & Chair of the Wellness Council of Rutherford County

Lisa TerryAs the CEO of a healthcare facility in Rutherford County, Tennessee, Lisa Terry is acutely aware of her community’s obesity epidemic. She’s also convinced that real estate developers are key to advancing neighborhood design for active living.

“Because our city is growing so rapidly, literally changing before our eyes, we wanted to make sure our communities were developed with health and wellness in mind,” says Terry, who serves as chairperson of the Wellness Council of Rutherford County. “We’re also concerned that some people couldn’t afford to pay for a gym, and wanted them to be able to walk in their neighborhood.”

Terry and fellow council members—which include university professors, parks and recreation professionals, and the chief of police, among others—devised a strategy to educate, and incentivize, local developers. In 2005 they established the Active Living Neighborhood Award to encourage developers to include features such as sidewalks, open space, street art and furniture, and trail connections to nearby destinations that will encourage residents to lead active lifestyles.

“The consumer is becoming more and more savvy and they want the neighborhood to have those amenities,” says Terry.

Council members met with local developers to solicit their input, and spent months researching criteria that would challenge developers without discouraging them from applying for the award. They received enthusiastic support from the city and county planner, and convened leaders from the area’s 11 development firms to solicit applications.

While the award was intended to influence new developments, it has also established criteria that can be used to assess existing developments. This year the housing authority—the director of which is on the Wellness Council—has embraced the importance of designing for health, retrofitting existing developments with active living amenities to meet the council’s criteria.

“It’s still in the developmental phase,” says Terry, admitting that the all-volunteer council has received just six applications. There’s a $700 application fee to cover costs since the project is currently unfunded.

Lisa Terry
Active Living Neighborhood Award logo

“We are trying to grow this,” she says. “Our wellness council has spoken to the health commissioner and there’s talk about extending the award across the state.”

Learn more:

Letter to Developers about the Active Living Neighborhood Award of Excellence

Wellness Council of Rutherford County

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