Friday, January 4, 2019

Dept. Of Health, University Of Pittsburgh School Of Public Health Award 11 Grants To Improve Walking, Biking Opportunities

On January 3, the Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health selected 11 communities to receive grants to assist with the development of active transportation plans and policies promoting walking and biking.
The grants were awarded under the WalkWorks Program.  The communities and organizations receiving the grant awards are--
-- Allegheny County: Wilkins Township;
-- Bucks County: Bristol Borough, Morrisville Borough, New Britain Borough and Plumstead Township;
-- Cumberland County: Lower Allen Township;
-- Lehigh County: Lehigh Valley Planning Commission;
-- Montgomery County: Hatfield Township, Montgomery County Planning Commission and Upper Dublin Municipal Authority; and
-- York County: Springettsbury Township.
“Having access to areas for recreation, such as walking and biking is essential in helping to keep Pennsylvanians healthy,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Physical activity can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and premature death. Being active also helps prevent weight gain, reduce depression and improve cognitive function in older adults. These communities should be applauded for their efforts to review how they can make physical exercise part of transportation planning in their community.”
The plans will emphasize walking and biking enhancements to each community’s infrastructure, thereby expanding opportunities for physical activity.
The grants will help assist in community planning and design to incorporate more opportunities for walking, cycling and public transit for a healthier population. This shift in planning requires a concerted effort to link transportation policy and public health, which these grants support.
“Planning healthy, compact, complete communities is needed to support active transportation,” said Carol L. Reichbaum, M.S.L., M.S.P.A., director of WalkWorks in Pitt Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice. “Doing so will not only lead to improved health, it will also address other major concerns, including congestion, economic vitality and sustainability. While community design has long been the domain of land use and transportation planners, it has become increasingly obvious that our communities will benefit from greater collaboration of public health practitioners, municipal planning entities and other partners to create built environments that better support health.”
The grant recipients were selected from a competitive pool of high-quality applicants by a multidisciplinary review team that included Reichbaum and representatives of DOH, PennDOT, the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Aging, Community & Economic Development, and the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.  
Funding for WalkWorks is provided by the Department of Health through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant and the State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, both from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information, visit the Department of Health’s WalkWorks Program webpage.

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