DES MOINES, IA (February 8, 2017) – In response to recommendations developed as part of a walkable communities workshop held last year, the Healthiest State Initiative and Active Living Iowa announces the creation of the Iowa Walking College. The Iowa Walking College is an interactive, online educational program for walkable community advocates based on the National Walking College created by America Walks. The National Walking College as used as a model to develop a walking college to meet the needs of Iowans.
“Today most Iowans are required to use a car to get from point A to point B, leaving less of us walking,” said Jami Haberl, executive director at the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. “Walking is one of the easiest, most affordable and accessible ways for all of us to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, which is proven to improve your physical, social and emotional well-being.”
The Health-Transportation Workshop facilitated by America Walks and the Project for Public Places and in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Public Health, and Iowa Economic Development Authority met last year to address walkable communities in Iowa. Five recommendations resulted from the workshop:
- Design a collaborative planning process.
- Deploy partner organizations to lay the groundwork for change.
- Develop a communications campaign that targets Iowa communities.
- Develop and deliver training programs at multiple levels.
- Identify funding sources for infrastructure changes.
“Thriving, vibrant communities, are walkable communities,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “Working with our state and local partners to improve community walkability will improve the quality of life and support a healthy and productive workforce.”
Fifteen fellowships will be awarded to Iowans working as community change agents. The fellows may be working alone, in organizations, or in professions such as public health, planning, transportation, economic development or education. The Iowa Walking College is a six-month program, where fellows will explore ways to improve walkability around the state through online and face-to-face interaction.
“Everyone has different preferences when it comes to transportation: drive a car, ride a bicycle, walk or ride transit or train,” said Milly Ortiz-Pagan, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator of the Iowa Department of Transportation. “But something that all road users have in common, everyone is a pedestrian at some point of their travel. Walking is a recognized non-motorized mode of transportation.”
“Physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our health,” said Gerd Clabaugh, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. “Ensuring our agencies are working together to make it easier for Iowans to walk will ultimately lead to healthier Iowans.”
The Healthiest State is accepting applications for fellows now until March 10, 2017. Additional information about the Iowa Walking College and to complete an application is available at http://www.iowahealthieststate.com/iowa-walking-college/.
To view a copy of the full report, visit http://www.iowahealthieststate.com/webres/File/Healthy-Hometown/Walkability/Iowa-Workshop-Report-And-Recommendations-Final.pdf.
The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. By engaging worksites, communities, schools, retail food, organizations, institutions and individuals, we can inspire Iowans and their communities to improve their health and happiness, and ultimately achieve our goal. For more information, visit www.iowahealthieststate.com.