Gateways to Nature

APA Illinois Chapter


Friday, September 15, 2017
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. CDT

CM | 1.50

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The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) worked with the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) to connect residents to the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of spending time in nature through the Healthy Hotspot initiative. The Healthy Hotspot initiative is funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health grant program and seeks to provide healthy living opportunities for all residents across suburban Cook County, including increased awareness and access to physical activities.


Through this initiative the FPCC has been able to create an innovative Gateway Master Plan that includes the creation of signature nature gateways sites throughout Cook County that will feature improved trail access, wayfinding, and outdoor recreation and nature exploration opportunities.  The Healthy Hotspot initiative and the FPCC partnership with CCDPH has also resulted in the printing of five zone and nine trail maps in Spanish and English and an interactive web map allowing users to travel to and navigate the FPCC’s nearly 70,000 acres. One of the most exciting outcomes from this partnership and initiative, is a Wellness in the Woods brochure, which was designed and printed in Spanish and English and includes facts about the benefits of spending time in nature, recommending healthy outdoor activities in the forest preserves. Working with the CCDPH the brochure was distributed to health care organizations throughout Cook County. A strategic communications campaign was also created to support the initiative and continues to promote the FPCC as a resource for active living.


This APA-IL session will talk about the partnership between the two organizations and the role of design in shaping the Gateway Master Plan. Kindy Kruller, Senior Planner at the Forest Preserves, will moderate the session and present the overall partnership outcomes for the Forest Preserves including lessons learned about expanding our agency's work into public health. Gina Massuda Barnett, is the Director of Chronic Disease Prevention at Cook County Department of Public Health and will discuss how her department is engaging a wide variety of partners, including the Forest Preserves, to identify new approaches for enhancing public health opportunities. Sarah White, PLA AICP LEED BD + C, was the project manager for the consultant team helping the Forest Preserves complete the Gateway Master Plan and will present on the public process, priority setting and the role of design in planning the Gateways for the Forest Preserves.


Sarah White, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

As a landscape architect and urban planner, Sarah is a proven thinker, collaborator, and leader who loves what she does for a living - particularly when it involves engaging people and working together to develop solutions that contribute to a beautiful and interesting built environment. Read More

Gina Massuda Barneet

Confirmed Speaker

Masters-prepared public health professional with over 15 years experience, primarily in government setting, who has passion for working with others and for identifying and acting on strategic opportunities to improve population health. A seasoned leader and effective manager, known for leading change initiatives in geopolitically complex settings and building and ... Read More

Kindy Kruller, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Kindy Kruller is the Senior Planner at the Forest Preserves of Cook County where she leads planning studies, master plans, needs assessments and land use policies for the District. She also supports staff on public facilitation, integrated design processes and sustainability initiatives. Kindy has over 10 years of professional experience ... Read More

Contact Info

Trevor Dick,