2020 All-America City – Miami Gardens, FL

The City of Miami Gardens is the 3rd largest City in Miami-Dade County and the largest predominantly African American municipality in Florida. Miami Gardens was incorporated in 2003 out of a quest for self-determination that unfolded as a 6-year citizen advocacy campaign.  At the time, escalating crime level, a dilapidated park system and flat line economic growth were at the heart of residents’ angst; conditions perceived by many to be the effects of a long history of neglect by county officials.

Since 2003, significant strides have been made to provide superior services designed to enhance public safety and improve the overall quality of life, while exercising sound stewardship through open government and active civic, business and resident involvement. Highlighted projects show how the community has addressed health disparities and improved overall health and well-being for all residents.

Live Healthy Miami Gardens
In 2014, Miami Gardens was awarded a $3.75M, six-year grant from Health Foundation of South Florida. The grant was to establish Live Healthy Miami Gardens (LHMG), a concerted, collaborative effort to unite residents, government, nonprofit practitioners, funders, businesses and researchers.

From inception, the city built in an 18-month planning period to allow for adequate community involvement, buy-in and decision making.  During the planning period, a community check-in process was conducted, consisting of focus groups and surveys from more than 700 residents. With the help of over 100 stakeholders, 5 health impact areas were selected: Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD); Healthy Eating and Improved Nutrition; Mental Health; Physical Activity; and Primary Healthcare. A community action plan was developed with short and long-term strategies, prioritized by the community to address local challenges.

The following are just a few of the accomplishments of LHMG:

  • Formed 3 Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs and trained 35 students as advocates for ATOD policy changes.
  • Trained 1,013 residents in cooking classes to promote healthy eating.
  • Started a Healthy Restaurant Project with 10 local restaurants to increase healthy menu options.
  • Conducted a Mental Wellness Forum to demystify and normalize mental wellness.
  • Developed and implemented a Worksite Wellness Program within the city and supported 3 Miami Gardens’ employers in adopting worksite wellness policies and practices.
  • Launched a “Take Your Loved One to the Doctor” campaign, which secured pledges from 833 community members.

City of Miami Gardens Department of Public Works
The Department of Public Works does so much more than maintain public property within the city limits. In Miami Gardens, the Public Works Department is focused on enhancing connectivity by improving bicycle and pedestrian networks. The increased active transportation contributes to healthy lifestyles and community vitality.

Recent accomplishments include:

  • The city’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) was created after getting feedback through a series of community visioning workshops. The updated plan includes a multi-use walking trail, landscaping enhancements along major thoroughfares, and plans to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and bike lanes.
  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan enhances non-motorized transportation mobility and accessibility, connecting activity centers, neighborhoods, and community facilities.
  • A Complete Streets policy was adopted to build streets accommodating older adults in order to create a safer environment for people of all ages.
  • The Keep Miami Gardens Beautiful Advisory Board was established to make suggestions on how to improve the city’s physical appearance.
  • A Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Plan was developed to create safer opportunities for children to walk and bike to school.
  • The Swat-A-Litterbug and Adopt-A-Road programs were created to control littering.
  • The Miami Gardens Express was expanded from 2 to 3 free community trolleys.
  • 340 shade trees were planted near walking/biking trails and transit stops.
  • Best practices for physical activity and healthy food access were incorporated into the CDMP, promoting a healthy food system with policies to improve local food access, support urban agriculture, and promote healthy food sales.

City of Miami Gardens Department of Parks & Recreation
The Department of Parks and Recreation maintains over 170 acres of environmentally friendly parkland and operates 12 community centers, 3 swimming pools and a splash pad. The Department coordinates fun-filled city-wide special events throughout the year, providing residents with beautiful open greenspaces, healthy activity choices, walking trails, and countless programs and services.

As part of the General Obligation Bond passed by residents, a comprehensive Bond Implementation Plan was developed with community input.  The plan lays out a shared vision and includes:

  • Literacy – An array of free afterschool camps and summer camp programs are offered for grades K-12, where certified schoolteachers are present to assist students with homework. Free STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workshops are offered throughout the year, as are free chess classes.
  • Behavioral issues – Free anger management and conflict resolution sessions are available with a certified therapist to help youth navigate through their feelings and express themselves in a healthy manner.
  • Free swim lessons are available for the entire community, and low-cost programs are available for adults and children including yoga, pilates, martial arts, line dancing, and more.
  • Free Wi-Fi is available at all parks and each community center is equipped with a computer lab to assist residents with searching for services, preparing resumes, completing homework, and more.

The city continues to hold monthly Bond Oversight Committee Meetings to ensure the projects are on track and to give residents a forum to make suggestions. This valuable feedback contributes to helping shape great neighborhood and community spaces and outstanding cultural, educational and recreational opportunities.

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