Harrisburg, PA - The WalkWorks program, a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, has selected 10 communities and agencies to receive grants that will assist with the development of active transportation plans and policies.
“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 support physical activity in their transportation planning.”
The plans will emphasize new or improved pedestrian, bicycle and/or transit systems, thereby establishing activity-friendly routes that connect residents and visitors to everyday destinations. The communities or agencies receiving the grant awards are:
- Caernarvon Township, Lancaster County - $16,000;
- Denver Borough, Lancaster County - $20,000;
- Erie County Department of Health for the Blue Zones Project Corry - $20,000;
- City of Johnstown, Cambria County - $5,000;
- City of Lancaster; Lancaster County - $20,000;
- Monroe County Planning Commission for the East Stroudsburg Urbanized Area - $14,607;
- Smart Growth Partnership Westmoreland, Westmoreland County - $25,000;
- Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County - $25,000;
- Waynesburg Borough, Greene County - $15,840; and
- Blair Planning for Williamsburg Borough, Blair County - $13,000.
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.
“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 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 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 Reichbaum and representatives of DOH, PennDOT, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Community & Economic Development, and the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.
Funding for WalkWorks is provided by the Pennsylvania 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 about WalkWorks, visit www.pawalkworks.com or follow the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter.
About the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. Pitt Public Health is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about Pitt Public Health, visit the school’s Web site at www.publichealth.pitt.edu.
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