I was recently in DC presenting at the America Walks Summit where the Surgeon General was a keynote speaker addressing his recent Call to Action on Walkable Communities. As I was listening to his presentation I couldn’t help but think what a call to action meant. Many folks know of it as CTA’s within the Internet of things, it’s literally a call to create some sort of action or response.
In this essence it was a way to tell Cities that you need to take a more proactive approach in creating safe, active walkable communities.
Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities recognizes the importance of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. It calls on Americans to be more physically active through walking and calls on the nation to better support walking and walkability. Improving walkability means that communities are created or enhanced to make it safe and easy to walk and that pedestrian activity is encouraged for all people. The purpose of the Call to Action is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.
In support of this call to action, America Walks issued Micro Grants where over 500 organizations responded with their efforts on community health and engagement. As we visit with many Cities and Non-Profits we see a growing trend with community health and engagement as these organization see several benefits such as economic development. Who doesn’t like to take a nice walk with a friend or loved one and stop in a local store for coffee a glass of wine or some groceries. It’s tremendous and inspiring to see what is going on within various Cities and Non-Profits, for example:
- In Tennessee – Healthier Tennessee is an effort led by Governor Bill Haslam and made possible by The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, a non-profit corporation dedicated to enabling and encouraging Tennesseans to lead healthier lives.
- In Maury County Tennessee they launched a Community Challenge to lose the weight equivalent of a team of mules (8,000 lbs.).
- In North and South Carolina there is an initiative called Eat Smart Move More which is a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray.
- In Oklahoma there is a significant community health initiative but they have also been successful with their built environment initiatives – The Oklahoma City Trails are a network of paved walking, running, bicycling and skating paths that will eventually stretch all across Oklahoma City and many of its suburbs.
- In Indianapolis it is one of the top 10 places to walk run and bike and they are home to the largest half-marathon in the US with several trails that connect unique cultural enclaves, restaurants and attractions. There downtown path also has a barrier that separates bikes from motorists.
- And Finally, just look at what organizations like AARP and Del Webb are doing with Age Friendly and Active Adult Communities as it’s a growing trend.
These are exciting developments and I can’t wait to see more in 2016! As we approach the end of the year it’s typically a time to reflect on accomplishments and set new goals. For me, I am hopeful to further spread the word on what Cities are doing to engage their communities, meet someone new each week to share their accomplishments and further my passion that I have been working on for nearly 4 years – which is to bridge the gap between technology and the built environment to engage communities, reward healthy behaviors and create social connections.
It’s a challenging endeavor when you bootstrap such an operation and try to employ social media, gamification and the concept of community – but we are seeing the idea gain traction, in fact this recent article talking about 2016 was inspiring to see the word community and social media used – after all social media is great but aren’t we looking for more community connections…
So what is your call to action in the New Year? As an organization is it to put on more events in your community, to host a Mayoral Walk, develop a new trail or as an individual is it to loss weight, run your first 5k, half marathon or marathon.. Is it to run a race in multiple cities or just get out within your community and get engaged? Drop me a note as I’d love to hear from you as we share accomplishments and inspire others.
I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year – see you all in 2016!