On September 9, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. The campaign, called Step It Up!, cites multiple research studies, books, and websites that make a strong, if familiar, case for the importance of physical activity in people of all ages. But before you grab your sports gear or head to the gym, read on:

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.” Link to full Executive Summary.

As insight2050 shows, residents of Central Ohio are demonstrating an increasingly strong preference for walkability – neighborhoods that link our homes to our schools, jobs, parks, shopping and services by safe and well-connected paths. Dr. Murthy’s call to action reminds us that a walkable community can be a healthier community, but it doesn’t happen by chance.

“The Surgeon General calls on community planners and local leaders to create more areas for walking and wheelchair rolling and to prioritize the development of safe routes for children to get to and from schools. The call to action suggests that these designs should include sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, safe crossings for the visually impaired and more green spaces. The Surgeon General further calls on city managers, law enforcement and community and public health leaders to address safety concerns by better maintaining public spaces, working with residents to promote a shared sense of community ownership, ensuring proper street lighting and fostering neighborhood watch programs.” Link to full Press Release.

As we prepare for our region’s population growth and changing community preferences over the next 35 years, now is the perfect time to step it up and ensure that our communities are equipped with the resources and tools we need to make choices about health, safety and walkability in our neighborhoods.

 

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Of note to some readers, America Walks and the Every Body Walk! Collaborative have announced a microgrant program that will award community groups up to $2500 for activities that strengthen or elevate walking programs or that fortify the policies, systems and environments that create walkable places. Grant applications are due October 15. If you know of a community group that could benefit from some extra funds to support this kind of work, please share this information with them.