This is a terrific Report aka publication. It should be recommended reading for everyone who can make a difference to the health and well-being of individuals and communities – so not just health professionals and community workers, but also planners, engineers, architects, developers, councils and governments, even individuals. Why? It shows what’s possible when we work together with commitment, passion and a determination to make a difference. The focus of the Handbook is pets and how they contribute to social capital. This emphasis on social capital goes to the heart of the Healthy Spaces and Places project. Healthy Spaces and Places is a national approach that recognises the infl uence the spaces and places we build for living, working and playing (the built environment) can have on our lifelong health. It is a joint initiative of the National Heart Foundation, the Australian Local Government Association and the Planning Institute of Australia (funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing). The project aims to get more of us being more active more regularly: walking, cycling and using public transport – active movement helps make us fi tter and healthier lifelong. This Handbook resonates with Healthy Spaces and Places not only because it shows how pet ownership gets people active and healthier (physically and mentally), but also because it is underpinned by sound research that shows the benefi ts of active, healthy lifestyles. Also, it is about partnerships. The case studies show many different approaches but the underlying theme is strong: pet ownership can readily make things happen at the community level. Pet ownership has many benefi ts. It gets many of us out walking. It also gets us talking, leading to spontaneous, neighbourly relations and, as this book shows, creative initiatives and progressive joint ventures. In essence, pet ownership leads to actions and activities that help people live well together. Good quality built environments have a compelling role to play in facilitating such initiatives, as some of the case studies show. We encourage you to dip into this Handbook and start making a difference.
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