NEWS & STORIES
Streets, an important indicator of the livability of a community, should be for everyone. But too many streets are designed only for cars, making them unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists, and people who use wheelchairs. In 2019, JSI, which operates the New York State (NYS) Obesity Prevention Center for Excellence, partnered with America Walks to develop the NYS Walking College. Supported by the state Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant, the NYS Walking College empowered local public health leaders and community members to adopt and implement Complete Streets policies—directives that streets be designed and operated to enable safe access for all people, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation.
NYS Walking College participants completed online learning modules and hands-on community assignments, received coaching from New York-based mentors, and engaged in peer discussion forums. While building and strengthening their leadership, communication, community engagement, policy change, and campaign planning skills, participants developed collaborative action plans to outline goals and strategies for making their communities more walkable.
“The Walking College symposium was just fantastic,” said Dan Sullivan, the Town of Richfield’s Planning Board chairperson. “We are looking at several grants opportunities, are still meeting and taking information from residents and groups about ways to improve the walkability of the village, and are confident that we’re going to make this a better place to live as a result.”
In February, the CDC announced that one in four U.S. adults has obesity , a condition associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer, which are the leading causes of death in the U.S.  Increasing opportunities to walk, bike, and wheel in communities boosts people’s engagement in daily physical activity, which can help prevent or reduce obesity. JSI is proud to be helping make communities throughout the state safer, more walkable, and healthier through the NYS Walking College.