Making communities walkable and encouraging walking as a way to help people of all ages reap the health benefits of physical activity has become a national priority, and the Every Body Walk! Collaborative has had a lot to do with elevating this critical issue. We are proud to have played a part in the past five years of progress during which the Collaborative solidified a national movement to sustain joint work across professional disciplines such as public health and transportation. By working together, we have bridged differences in approach and core mission to unify around our common interest in creating communities where all members have safe and accessible places to walk and be physically active. Our reasons may vary, but walking is our shared solution.
A highlight of the past five years was Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities, which built the case for walking as critical to the health of the American people. The Collaborative served as a close partner to the Office of the Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in developing the Call to Action, and then played a central role in helping to popularize the Call to Action by coordinating joint communications among dozens of organizations to broaden the audience and reach diverse constituencies. The Collaborative also was a creative force in determining ways to use the Call to Action to drive change in communities.
Another highlight has been the Collaborative’s role, with America Walks as the hub organization, in convening the movement and empowering us all with the knowledge needed to succeed. The National Walking Summit, which takes place every two years, has become a central gathering place for more than 600 leaders from a variety of sectors to come together to network, learn best practices, and see first-hand the innovative community-level work needed to enhance walkability. Participants leave the Summit feeling energized and ready to tackle hard challenges back home. This dynamic is sustained between Summits through an effective program of informative America Walks webinars, social media and opportunities for Collaborative organizations to echo and amplify key themes through their communications channels.
We see all around us growing demand for walkable communities. That doesn’t happen by chance. The walking movement has matured into an unstoppable national force in part because the Every Body Walk! Collaborative has brought us together as a team.
–Kevin Mills, Senior Vice President of Policy, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and Joan Dorn, Medical Professor and Chair, CUNY School of Medicine (Co-chairs 2013-2018)
Strong leaders, clear direction and passionate partners—we are proud to continue the charge to support both the walking movement and each of you agents of change at the national level and on the ground! As we look forward, we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and about our collective strength in addressing the many challenges as well. We are open to new ideas and plan to connect with Collaborative members individually over the next few months, but, as a start, here is a glimpse into our plan for the next chapter.
We’re looking for innovative ways to support networking by Collaborative members. Professionals today must develop collegial relationships quickly, sometimes over long distance. In that context, we pose the question: How can we better assist you in learning from each other? Would you like to share stories? Best practices? Have you found ways that work for getting dispersed professionals to reach out to each other? We’ll be diving into such questions with you as we start our term.
We want to prepare the Collaborative with a nimbleness to address emerging issues. Current events can give rise to collective campaigns, advocacy efforts, or program ideas in areas such as pedestrian rights or disability advocacy or racial disparities. We’ve brought on board a strategic program advisor, Phronie Jackson, PhD, as part of the volunteer leadership team. Phronie went through America Walks’ Walking College and leads walks in Washington, DC. Her local perspective will help us stay grounded.
We are delighted to be serving the Collaborative over the next two years!
–Cass Isidro, Executive Director, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and Pam Eidson, Executive Director, National Physical Activity Society, (Co-chairs 2018-2020)