America Walks and the Every Body Walk! Collaborative are excited to announce the second round of Every Body Walk! Micro Grant awardees. The micro grant program provides funds that support grassroots efforts aimed at getting communities walking and creating more safe, accessible and enjoyable places to walk and be physically active. We received over 800 applications for projects that employ art, signage, social support, environmental design and other innovative means to encourage all people to walk more and engage in creating safe, accessible delightful walkable places. The response clearly demonstrates the desire, passion and possibilities for every community, regardless of shape and size, to create vital and vibrant communities.

With support from partners, including WalkBoston, American College of Sports Medicine and The TransitCenter, 22 projects will be supported in 2017. TransitCenter, a national foundation dedicated to improving urban public transit, partnered with America Walks to support six groups who are working creatively to increase pedestrian access to transit and build complete networks in their communities. TransitCenter’s research has shown that ridership depends on good walking environments, and planners need advocates to demonstrate the importance of these connections.

We look forward to hearing and sharing their inspiring stories as these projects are completed. Meantime, here’s a taste of what’s to come from some of our newest grantees:

  • Greater Portland Council of Governments Public Service Fund, Portland, Maine

Portland is Maine’s largest and most diverse city – home to 66,000 people including a sizeable immigrant and refugee community. In 2015, Portland Public Schools began partnering with the local public transit provider, switching high schoolers from yellow busses to public busses. This project will maximize and sustain the benefits of student transit use by engaging youth as planners and civic leaders. Led by the Public Health in Transportation Coalition – a group of planners, public health practitioners and active transportation stakeholders – this effort will involve students in implementing a bus stop placemaking demonstration project and developing recommendations for region-wide transit improvements.

  • Greenville Transit Authority, Greenville South Carolina 

Greenlink, Greenville, SC’s local public transportation agency, has transportation amenities including a free downtown trolley and a bicycle locker program, in addition to eleven fixed bus routes. The Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 21-mile greenway, also supports the community’s walkability and bikeability. Unfortunately, a lack of on-street infrastructure makes accessing Greenlink and the Trail difficult. More than 37% of Greenville’s 64,579 residents are susceptible to pedestrian fatality accidents. To better support this population and all residents, Greenlink will use this grant to upgrade the infrastructure at an existing bus stop to improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians accessing transit. Learn more here!

  • Face of Hope International, Everett, Massachusetts

Face of Hope International is proud to announce that next year it will expand awareness of its lifestyle change program that focus on promoting physical activity and eating behavior to allow participants live healthier lives with support from America Walks’ Every Body Walk! Micro Grant. The grant will be spent on printing publicity materials – flyers, brochures, posters used on outreach events and mass mailing to targeted cities in Greater Boston Area.

  • The Heart of South DeKalb, Decatur, Georgia

DeKalb County, GA official exercise is walking.  When I mentioned our America Walks Grant to our county Commissioner, he was elated.  We are already exchanging ideas.  He had been wondering how we could get our residents to use our local walking trails and parks more and then I tell him my good news about America Walks Grant!  Our local mall has an indoor walking group (seniors) and they too are ready to spread the word, as well. We have many seniors in our community who understands the need to get out and move.  However, sometimes it’s hard to get motivated by yourself, find someone who can/will walk with you or even know where they should go where they will feel safe. Our America Walks grant will help us reach out to those seniors, encourage them and show them how to get out and walk, learn and explore new places, meet new friends with similar needs plus elimnate the fear of going out alone.

  • The Plaza Assisted Living, Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu Walks is a multisectoral collaboration involving youth and older adults in Honolulu, Hawaii. This project will utilize digital cameras and the photovoice evaluation process to explore local walking culture, share personal perspectives on walking outdoors, and assess the walkability of our community. Photographs from Honolulu Walks will be displayed throughout the city in public exhibitions to promote the benefits of safe walking and highlight the voices of our “bookend generations.” This project is being organized by The Plaza Assisted Living with support from Project Dana, `Iolani School, and the University of Hawaii Center on Aging.

  • Rogers Park Business Alliance, Rogers Park, Illinois

Rogers Park is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Chicago and is located on the far northeast side of the city. Rogers Park Business Alliance’s project combines public art, wayfinding and walking. We are developing an interactive digital map of our expansive collection of public art. Along with adding multi-lingual signage at each public art site, we’ll provide printed copies of our map to serve as a guide for those who may not have digital access. Our residents can put on their walking shoes and enjoy a great walk as they view the beautiful art in our neighborhood.

  • Healthy By Design Coalition, Billings, Montana

The Healthy By Design Coalition of Yellowstone County, Montana, is a collaborative of community with a desire to promote and improve health with a vision to create a community that is healthy by design. Our Coalition hosts an annual summer Gardeners’ Market at a neighborhood park, located at the heart of a USDA-designated food desert. With this microgrant, we will work with community partners to promote physical activity and placemaking at the market by implementing a walking campaign including punch cards and incentives, marketing materials, wayfinding signage, and bike parking at the entrance to the park.

  • Central Valley Health District, Jamestown, North Dakota

Central Valley Health District is striving to improve the walkability of Jamestown, North Dakota. For our project, we will be purchasing signs to be placed at existing walking trails. The signage will match our downtown walking trail called Get Fit & Explore. By marking the trails, we predict an increase in the amount of people walking. Because of the harsh North Dakota winters, we plan to place signs at indoor walking spaces including the Civic Center and the newly built Two Rivers Activity Center. Every Body Walk! is a wonderful opportunity to create a culture of walking in the Jamestown community! Learn more here

  • Community Alliance for Teen Safety, Derry, New Hampshire

The Community Alliance for Teen Safety (CATS) is a small non-profit located in Derry NH. CATS focuses on issues related to the health and safety of youth and families. Our America Walks project will support a pedestrian safety initiative spearheaded by our youth group and supported community that focuses on an unsafe road traveled by many students to and from their high school which has a population of over 3,100 students. The project will help to increase awareness among students about how to walk safely and without distraction and among parents about how to reinforce safe walking habits with their children.

  • SAGE Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Walk, Talk, Roll – An intergenerational opportunity for LGBT folks to get outside and move!” Our project will bring together diverse members of the LGBT and Ally Community to enjoy each other and move. ‘Walk and roll’ so the disability community can join us. Our walkers/rollers will be provided with a walk-and-roll-friendly path and the opportunity to pair up with a participant from another generation. Prompts will be provided to encourage dialogue about our different experiences being LGBT. Additionally, there will be a game for collecting selected “sights” along the way and educational information about the benefits of walking.

  • Cleveland Police Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio

The mission of Cleveland Police Foundation (CPF) is to improve quality of life for all members of the community and to strengthen the bonds between the police and the citizens it serves. CPF, in collaboration with the Northeast Ohio Medical University HPAC Program and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, will support students in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood in designing Safe Routes to School pathway signage that will promote the health benefits of walking and safety tips. Sadly, 37.7% single mothers with children have incomes below the poverty level, and the serious violent crimes rate increased by over 20% in ten years.

  • Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Health Education Services, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Texas

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is a federally recognized Native American Tribe that was established in 1682. Its population is 3,462, and the tribal land includes approximately 166 square miles in El Paso, Presidio and Jeff Davis, Texas counties. The proposed Every Body Walk project will implement & promote the benefits of walking by supporting community walking trails and traditional events. The project will be marketed to the tribal community and its non-tribal workforce. It will include locally produced videos, outreach activities to promote the benefits of walking, use of trails, social support, and a community education component related to walking.

  • City of Burke, Burke, South Dakota

Burke, SD is a strong, rural community with a population of 604 residents. Residents work together to make their community a better place. The grant will be used to implement the first crosswalk in Burke, SD. It is a collaborative effort with the Burke Wellness Coalition, the City of Burke and Gregory County Commissioners. It will be located at the intersection of the residential street and county highway where the City Park, assisted living and school sports complex are located. The benefit of the crosswalk project will be increased pedestrian safety for those crossing at the intersection and a more walkable community. Learn more here

  • Opelousas Main Street, Inc., Opelousas, Louisiana

The Community Heritage Mural Project will bring together artists, youth and community organizations to use art as a tool for highlighting and preserving the city’s heritage as well as celebrate the 300-year anniversary Of Opelousas which takes place in 2020. The project will serve to enhance the downtown district of the city and create an art space that will contribute to the physical health and wellness of residents by drawing people to walk and ride bikes around the downtown area. The Heritage Mural project also builds on the city’s efforts to add more recreational activities to the community. Learn more here!

  • City of Okolona, Okolona Mississippi

The City of Okolona, Mississippi is a small rural community in northeast Mississippi. Our population of 2,800 shares a paved walking path with Chickasaw County. However, this path will be closed for several months because of construction and as a result  our  families do not have a safe, secure  walking area. With the assistance of America Walks, we will be able to provide a secure, paved walking area in  an area adjacent to a low income housing complex. The paved walking area will complement the community garden which the residents care for and provide a safe area for walking.

  • Christie’s Place, San Diego, California

Christie’s Place provides comprehensive, bilingual support services to women and families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Women living with HIV/AIDS are contending with homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues and intimate partner violence. The Walk and Learn Group created in 2015 gives clients an opportunity to have a social, cultural and educational experience. The group meets weekly to walk to nearby Balboa Park, visit different museums and have lunch together. Clients have expressed that this group has allowed them to feel less isolated in their life and have a moment where they can forget about their overwhelming daily struggles.

  • Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, Flagstaff, Arizona

Nonprofit organization Friends of Flagstaff’s Future will launch the “Adopt-a-Stop” program in Flagstaff, Arizona. “Adopt-a-Stop” will engage nearby community partners (schools, churches, community centers, etc.) in creation and maintenance of public art and/or landscaping projects along pedestrian routes within 1/4-mile of bus stops. These projects will enhance the pedestrian experience, encourage use of public transit, and build community pride and stewardship.

  • The Blind Social Center, Gary, Indiana

The Blind Social Center in Gary, Indiana will be installing talking wayfinding signage at targeted bus stops along one of Gary’s business corridors to increase neighborhood walkability for the community’s visually impaired.  These talking signs will assist with overcoming the current disparity that currently exists for one of the community’s most vulnerable sectors.  Visually impaired citizens will be given electronic bracelets which will in turn activate the talking signs at the bus stops.  These signs will then verbally describe what amenities are present, in which direction they are located, and how far away the amenity is from the bus stop.

  • Missoula in Motion, Missoula, Montana

For one week every year Missoula In Motion teams up with the community to celebrate Walk and Roll Missoula, an initiative to promote healthy transportation in and around the City. Walk and Roll Missoula highlights transportation options by featuring discounts and giveaways at local businesses, historic neighborhood tours, bike festivals, group rides, and much more. Missoula In Motion will use this grant money to implement one targeted walking activity each day of Walk and Roll Week. Our goal is a connected transportation network that contributes to a cleaner environment, healthier individuals and a more vibrant place for Missoulians to live, work and play.

  • Transitional Walking Project, Baltimore, Maryland

The Shelter Walk Project seeks to collaborate with Baltimore area family shelters with children to promote family interaction through daily walking while transitioning into permanent housing.  Our goal is to enlighten shelter residents about the benefits of walking and encourage daily walking as a lifestyle. Walking is our tool for connecting shelter families through walking together, learning together and just being together which ultimately helps promote healthier living. This project is design for a 12-month walking period, thus actively walking every other week or more per month.  Consistency of walking promotion for twelve months will allow others to participant when they can.  Our goal is to be a walking club with unlimited opportunities to promote walking, fitness and healthier lifestyles among transitional population.

  • Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA will partner with the Healthy Communities coalition LiveWell Luzerne and the Luzerne County Transportation Agency (LCTA) to promote walking, concepts of walkability, and the free Y Walk Wednesday program on in-bus advertisements. The Partners will also work with bus riders and the City of Wilkes-Barre to target two bus stops to audit to improve their safety and comfort as walking destinations. 79% of LCTA riders have no other means of transportation, and 93% walk to and from their destinations (LCTA user survey), but the YMCA is within three walkable blocks of the downtown transportation hub. Learn more here! 

– See more at: http://americawalks.org/every-body-walk-2016-micro-grants-awarded/#sthash.U3KpXzQf.dpuf