To Build Healthy Communities For Kids, Ask Kids What They Need

In the heart of the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana, the 450-person town of Valley of the Chiefs has faced mounting difficulties over the past several decades. In the last two generations, the Crow Nation has lost 80% of its population and 73% of its land. Economic dispossession has rattled Valley of the Chiefs, as members of the community have turned to substance abuse and violence. For youth, who make up around 43% of the population, the town is especially harsh.

Valley of the Chiefs is one of six communities selected this year to participate in Raising Places, a new initiative developed by the Chicago-based design firm Greater Good Studio and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to initiate ground-up local projects that will support a healthier environment for children–and by extension, everyone around them. “The research has shown for a long time that where you grow up matters,” says Sara Aye, executive director of the Greater Good Studio. “It matters for your health, it matters for your broader success in life. We can’t create a culture of health in America if we don’t have healthy places for kids to live and grow.”

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