Federal Initiative Aims to Make Walking Easier in Indiana

APA’s Plan4Health project, a national effort funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supports communities working at the intersection of planning and public health to increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for active living.

Strategies for how cities encourage active living can vary from place to place. Laura Garrett of Reach Healthy Communities talks about what increasing access to opportunities for active living means in Columbus, Indiana:

In Columbus, a coalition called Reach Healthy Communities in partnership with the City of Columbus Planning Department is pursuing strategies to make it easier to walk to places in the city. The coalition and its partner, Walkable and Livable Communities (WALC) Institute, hosted an Active Living Workshop in October 2015 to invite community members to take part in making their streets and neighborhoods healthier and more accessible places to live.

The workshop kicked off with more than 1,000 students walking or biking to school as part of a Columbus-wide Walk to School Day. The workshop taught third grade students what features a street must have for people to safely walk and bike on them among other important planning and public health concepts.

The WALC Institute recently released a report and photo vision based on their work with Reach Healthy Communities and other Columbus community members. The report — Columbus, Indiana: Walking Toward Greatness — includes comprehensive information about a range of active living concepts, observations and recommendations for Columbus (including long-term policy recommendations); fact sheets; and other tools.

Columbus recognizes that there is still much work to be done; but, with continued federal support, the city — and its residents — expect better local results.

APA is committed to helping cities like Columbus build healthier communities with the support of federal initiatives like Plan4Health. APA recently learned that thanks to its efforts and the outreach of organizations committed to improving community health, Congress will continue to provide critical funding for the work Plan4Health grantees are doing in communities across the country.

To learn about the 36 other U.S. communities working to provide better access to healthy, fresh food and walkable places, check out Plan4Health.

About the Authors

Aliza Norcross, MPH, is a project associate with APA’s Planning and Community Health Center. Emily Pasi is APA’s communication and outreach associate.

Image: Students taking part in “Walk to School Day” organized by the Plan4Health coalition in Columbus, Indiana; Reach Healthy Communities; and the WALC Institute as part of an Active Living Workshop. 

March 20, 2016

By Emily Pasi, Aliza Norcross