Building Healthier Communities with Our Built Environment Friends

In Celebration of Heart Healthy Month and Neighborhood Active Transportation, WALKSacramento Mobilizes Healthy Community Design Event at Maple Neighborhood Center.

Supporting our mission to encourage more active transportation, and gather input from community members about improvements they would like to see in their neighborhoods, WALKSacramento worked with dedicated community partners to put on a first-of-its-kind event this past weekend. Working with La Familia through an American Planning Association, Plan4Health Grant we joined forces with Valenzuela Garcia consulting to create a mini-city, complete with roads, a pop-up park, bicycle lane demonstrations, creative crosswalks, trees, and areas throughout to provide input.

We believe that the best way to engage community members in a discussion about health and the built environment is to provide something that people can interact with and experience, rather than just see on a map or in a report.

To help residents of the neighborhood understand the different levels of comfort associated with different kinds of bicycle facilities, we teamed up with Sacbike to walk community members through a bicycle lane demonstration. Starting with the least amount of protection and moving to the most, parents and children alike were astonished by how simple it is to make people on bikes feel safer. At the end of the demo, everyone voted on the kinds of facilities they want to see in their community. Next, families joined WALKSacramento to learn about different kinds of crosswalks and how communities across the country are starting to celebrate their culture and diversity through ‘creative crosswalks.’ Children enjoyed adding their own flare to the crossings while parents chatted about what made them feel safe crossing the streets in their neighborhoods.

Visitors also had the opportunity to stop by ASLA’s pop-up Park-in-a-pod to learn about the impact of urban play, greenspaces, and calm spaces in communities on physical and emotional health. Mimicking tree-lined streets and representing the connection between trees and health were beautiful Japanese Maples provided by the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Sac Tree staff were on hand to share information about the new urban agriculture ordinances and their commitment to planting 3,000 trees in South Sacramento!

The event was also an opportunity for SACOG and CPID to continue reaching out to community residents about the actual improvements they’d like to see in and around the Maple Neighborhood Center. Community members had the chance to share how they reached the Maple Center and even design their own ideal street.

Rounding out the event, La Familia set up a mural wall where children shared their answers to the question, “What would help your walk more?” a selfie station, and a team of Samuel Merritt RN – BSN nursing students offering free blood pressure screenings. A truly holistic approach to community health!