Friday, October 30, 2020

WalkWorks Program Awards 10 Community Grants To Increase Physical Activity Options for Communities

On October 30, the departments of Health and Conservation and Natural Resources and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Healthannounced 10 communities and agencies will receive grants totaling $155,000 to assist with the development of plans and policies to increase physical activity options in their communities through the
WalkWorks Program

This program has also benefited from its close partnership with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and its generous funding of two of the grant recipients.

“Having access to areas for recreation, such as walking and biking, is essential in keeping Pennsylvanians healthy – especially, during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary of Health 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. We are proud of this collaboration and the grant recipients who will help support the efforts to encourage safe physical activity in their communities across Pennsylvania.”

“During these most trying times our state and local parks are seeing an unprecedented crush of visitors, most intent on walking, hiking or biking,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Now more than ever people need that access to healthy physical activity, which is exactly what this partnership embraces.”

With this funding, the grant recipients can now execute the plans they submitted which emphasize new or improved pedestrian, bicycle and/or transit systems establishing activity-friendly routes that connect residents and visitors to everyday destinations. 

The communities or agencies receiving the grant awards are:

-- Allegheny County - Forest Hills Borough: $20,000

-- Bucks County - Quakertown Alive! : $20,000

-- Chester County: $5,000

-- Cumberland County - South Middleton Township: $10,000

-- Erie County - Union City Borough: $15,000

-- Lancaster County - East Hempfield Township, : $20,000; Marietta Borough: $20,000

-- Northampton County - City of Bethlehem, : $20,000; Lower Saucon Township: $20,000

-- Warren County - Warren City, : $5,000

The grants will help assist in community planning and design to incorporate more opportunities for walking, cycling and public transit while providing more healthy options for exercise in these communities. 

This shift in planning requires a coordinated effort to link transportation policy and public health, which these grants support.

“Activity-friendly routes connected to everyday destinations can make it safe and convenient for people of all abilities to walk, bike or wheel. 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 at the University of Pittsburgh’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 with strategic partners such as public health practitioners, municipal planning entities, advocacy organizations and others 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 representatives from DOH, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Public Health Practice, PennDOT, DCNR, the Department of Community & Economic Development and the Pennsylvania Local Technical Assistance Program.

The WalkWorks program is committed to increasing walking, establishing activity-friendly routes and expanding walkable communities across Pennsylvania. 

Funding for WalkWorks is provided by DOH through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant and the State Physical Activity and Nutrition Grant, both from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To find a local walking route or find more information about the program, visit the WalkWorks Program webpage.

Visit the Explore PA Trails and Get Outdoors PA website for information on recreational resources near you.

Related Articles:

-- DCNR Good Natured Blog: Bringing Recreation Close To Home By Investing In Local Parks, Trails, Rivers Projects During Pandemic

-- PA Parks & Forests Foundation Accepting Nominations For COVID-19 Outdoor Recreation Champions

[Posted: October 30, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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