An immersive learning project at Ball State University is developing healthy neighborhoods in the local community and beyond.

Led by Assistant Professor of Wellness Management Jane Ellery, the student project is developing a way that neighborhoods can receive a Healthy Neighborhood designation, which is awarded for connectedness, diversity, organization, playfulness, safety, and other criteria.

The group includes senior Kylie Hagarty of New Palestine, a graduate of Cathedral High School. Hagarty is pursuing a bachelor’s in exercise science.

“My hope is that we truly make a difference in the communities that we work with,” Hagarty said. “This could even lead to making a difference in the Muncie community as a whole. I hope the tools and knowledge that we found together will stick with them and continue on. I hope that they continue their work to become the best community that they can be and accomplish a common goal to be proud of.”

Additionally, the class is developing an initiative called Play Everywhere, a toolkit that will be shared with teachers, community leaders, senior centers and others to encourage and teach people how to create and use public spaces for fun in everyday life.

“The overarching idea for the class is that everyone has the right to live in a great place, but more importantly, everyone has the right to make where they already live great,” Ellery said.

Hagarty said the community-oriented skills she is learning through the project are helping her toward her goals.

“This project has really exercised my overall creativity and interpersonal skills,” Hagarty said. We have all worked together with the community to come up with new ideas for potential additions and projects to their area. Working alongside some people in the community that I would have not met before has been a fulfilling experiences. Getting to know the community outside of Ball State has been awesome.”

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